We've talked about how Objectives should be able to trace back to your organization's purpose. They're really at their best when they've captured the "why" and support how your organization sustains and grows itself. Now let's talk about how a few carefully chosen, long-term Objectives can drive the direction of your organization from the top. And we're talking about how OKRs relate to your strategy. If you ask an employee of what the mission of the company they work for is, they're likely to be able to give you an answer. Missions tend to be prominent. We repeat them often. But when it comes to the strategy for accomplishing that mission, sometimes it gets murky. In many organizations, it can feel like there's a disconnect between the mission and the work we do every day. OKRs are meant to translate big ideas into actionable goals. They're a way to make your mission feel like something that can actually be tackled day to day. To help translate a mission into action, we encourage the leadership of every organization to set a North Star OKR. This is an OKR that captures what your organization is trying to accomplish in the year ahead. That's right. A year, sometimes longer. Your organization's also going to set shorter-term OKRs that change every cycle, guided by these North Star OKRs. When you have a large organization and multiple layers, our team encourages the organizational OKRs to last a year, and then the department team and individual OKRs to be at that shorter cadence. This really empowers leadership of the organization to set a direction, that North Star, while the departments and teams are working quarter to quarter to get there. The North Star OKR is meant to capture what long-term success looks like. By crafting it as an OKR, you get to articulate both an inspirational Objective and pair it with measurable Key Results. How do we come up with the North Star OKR? I find it helpful to ask, "Where do we want to be in a year?" and start there. Typically, the changes you're trying to make as a leader fall into three categories: impact, revenue, or operational excellence. There's a bit of overlap in each of these, but it's roughly like this. Focusing on increasing impact can mean everything from introducing a new product or service or improving the delivery of them. It's really a focus on doing new things. When we focus on increasing revenue, it might mean identifying new markets, new business models, or even streamlining and reducing costs. We're using the word "revenue" here and it applies to all types of organizations. Even nonprofits to government agencies, there's some financial means of supporting your organization. When we focus on increasing operational excellence, that means being better at the work we do as well as improving the way our organization functions. Do you want to change or implement a process or even optimize the way two divisions work together? The sum of the changes you want to make is your strategy. Then it's about choosing the one, two, or even three North Star OKRs that describe those changes and orienting your teams toward those changes. One company that tells us they've had particular success with North Star Objectives is Paperless Post. They make it easy for people to send digital invitations and cards. They often have many initiatives going on at one time, but have refine their OKR setting process to only have a few North Star Objectives at the top. They also find that the North Star Objectives help them track and accomplish goals that take more than a quarter to accomplish. The North Star Objectives stay in place while their quarterly Objectives will adapt to keep them pointed towards success. Their co-CEO, Alexa Hirschfeld, told us that OKRs help them align teams over several quarters. As she said, "Any team at the company can set a big goal, but you need a plan to get there. For us, OKRs offered a framework for working backwards from big goals.: I particularly like how Alexa says that at Paperless Post, any team can set a big goal if they have a plan. That gives teams skin in the game when it comes to how the mission gets accomplished. We recommend an organization should only have one, two, or three North Star OKRs. How set in stone is that? It's up to your organization, but we do encourage you to be choosy about them. One large publicly traded company we know had 13 top-level OKRs, and what they told us was it was suffocating. It didn't allow departments to own the direction and it felt like micromanaging. The following year, they trimmed that number to three, and it provided the focus and really empower the leaders of each division to chart their own OKRs. A clear, concise vision at the top allows for creativity to run through the organization. You set the destination and let the experts on various teams tell you how to get there. Some leaders decide they want only one North Star OKR at a time. There's a certain power in being that laser-focused, especially if you're an early stage company, you're pivoting, or taking the organization in a new direction. For larger organizations, it might be more realistic to find that one North Star, or set of North Stars, that guides each business model or unit. Fun fact, our North Star, the one here on Earth, when you look up in the sky, it's not one star. It's actually three: one bright one with two smaller ones surrounding it. I think there's some cool symbolism in that. Just remember, North Star OKRs articulate how your strategy will become execution. Taken together, they make your overall strategy actionable for the people in your organization, connecting their day-to-day work to the larger goals.