How to define OKRs as product leader?

Hi all,

I’m currently working as a PM in a SAAS startup/scaleup. I report directly to the Chief Product Officer, who is also one of the founders of the company. The job so far has been more “Whatever the company needs” rather than a clearly defined product management role. however we have nearly tripled in size since I started at the end of last year, and there’s a need for a Product Director or Group Product Manager role to be formalized.

I’ve been asked to put together OKRs for the product director role, which would then become my job once these are formalized and I hit them consistently.

Has anyone had this experience before, and can offer some advice in forming these OKRs/defining a Product Director’s position description?

I know this is a very open-ended/ambiguous question, I’d very appreciate personal stories/anecdotes or general advice.


I recently went from IC to manager.

  1. Find some open requests for product directors to get an idea of how to define your role.

I split my world into 4 ps

Purpose People Process Product

And align OKRS on advancing each area every quarter.

Notes: normally you have organizational okrs from your ELT and yours should nest. Ex: org level KR should be your team’s objective. Ask yourself, what can your team commit to helping achieve their goal?

Get alignment with your x functional counterparts on your okrs. Work with them to create KRS.

There are plenty of resources on what okrs are and how to write them on the internet.

Tip: get clarity on how your team will use them. Different companies use okrs differently. Ex: are these aspirational/uncomfortable or reasonable? Ex: is it tied to your comp or performance?

I’ve learned “Less is More” when it came to OKRs. Ex: Pick a single value metric you want to target as a team and laser focus on it. Vs try to Fix all the things.

Books: Measure what matters - okrs Making of a manager - management C.O.A.C.H. -management The first 90 days - new role level setting Inspired - product


'm going through the process of setting up OKRs with my company. Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Setting up OKRs for a person is difficult and I’d recommend against it. OKRs should be set by the team (so in this case, the product team) and should feed into the company’s OKRs.
  • OKRs are not meant to be hit consistently. OKR’s are ambitious and aspirational. If you’re hitting them consistently, you’re not being ambitious enough. (you should be aiming for 50-70%)
  • Base your OKRs on outcomes, not outputs.
  • OKR’s are meant to measure, not to remain static.
  • If you’ve already hit a result, don’t use it as an OKR (ie, let’s keep our NPS at 70.)
  • Ask yourself if you need an OKR. Not all teams need OKRs, and that’s ok. If it doesn’t feed into the company strategy, you don’t need to have them.

Not as a CPO, but as an OKR coach, I totally agree with the points here. We usually have product process people and customers as our pillars, purpose would work just right as well.


Exactly. One of my frustrations in many startups is they confuse goal and metric setting with OKR’s. I have generally been taught the same school of thought, that you should only be hitting a max of 70% of your OKR’s, otherwise you’re not being ambitious enough or have missed the mark on what they are.


Unfortunately, the 70% doesn’t seem well understood and is often intertwined with general goal setting. I’m living this now and it is confirmed by talking with multiple OKR tool vendors :frowning:

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I would look at it slightly different and consider the 4 categories of KPI

  1. Product Usage - has our product reached the predicted audience and returning value to our customers
  2. Product Development - impact on sales, again ROI vs cost of overhead. Profit margins!
  3. Product Quality - effectiveness of the product and value delivered by the product
  4. Business Performance - has the product reduced or increased critical areas of the business. Where needed?

All being core to determining the success of a product but also for helping you to determine pain points for future products to solve.

Would be interested to know what you decide to run with. Even if it’s a mixture of everyone’s suggestions :innocent:

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Can I ask why you think so? That’s actually not true. As far as I know, Google still uses personal OKRs. Although I agree that individual OKRs are probably best suited for organisations that have successfully adopted and are regularly practicing an OKR framework at higher levels.

I would also caution away from being absolutist about this stuff. There isn’t The Right Way that’s going to work for everyone. Context plays a role. There might be a right and wrong way in a particular context. There are good ideas and practices, but what is ultimately helpful for my org might not be the same for another org.

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You’re absolutely right about not being absolutist about really anything in life.

I think we can both agree that personal OKRs In a SAAS startup is a bad idea as it puts too much focus on the individual rather than the team in setting them, responsibility for achieving them, and distracting from competencies and behaviors at the individual level.

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