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Beat the Odds:  Don’t Just Survive, use the OKR Framework to Thrive in a Recession!

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Photo by Jonathan Petersson

With economic uncertainty lingering around the world, organizations need an action plan to build resilience against the threat of a global recession. That is where the OKR (Objective and Key Result) Framework comes to the rescue.

Just as organizations were finding their feet after the pandemic, another blow is hitting them.  The worldwide recession has now made it challenging for organizations to hit their goals.  It’s inevitable, even the best-run organizations are going to have to work to dodge the negative impacts of these economic conditions.

According to a Harvard Business Review study that followed 4,700 companies throughout three recessionary periods, companies that showed the strongest performance following a recession had three things in common:

  • They cut costs through operational efficiencies
  • They invested in R&D, marketing, and necessary business assets (plants, machinery, etc.)
  • They developed new markets.

An all-encompassing, structural approach to recession-proofing your organization goes beyond surface-level solutions that merely keep your business afloat.  Instead, it involves solidifying operational resilience in your company, helping your business persevere through short-term slumps while paving the way for long-term business success.  The success of this combined approach to recession-proofing lies in improving employee morale and engagement, streamlining productivity, lower investment costs focussing on innovation.  This means:

  • Building a resilient organization that can handle the ups and downs of today’s volatile market environment by focusing on financial, cultural, and strategic resilience
  • Fully embracing digital transformation by upgrading your tech stack, using data to your advantage, empowering employees for your digital future, and gearing up your operating model
  • Streamlining your organization by breaking down silos, leveraging core competencies, reaching markets at a lower cost, and cultivating agility with adaptive strategy execution.

Strategies to Navigate Recession with the OKR Framework

The OKR Framework provides management and employees with a direction on which to focus.  It helps establish specific goals, tasks to achieve those goals for everyone, and the metrics to understand how you’re getting there.

1. Adopt an agile OKR process

Agility has been one of the most crucial parts of surviving difficult situations in business.  Especially when it comes to recession-proofing your business.  Agile OKR processes allow you to adapt to change quickly.  It is one of the top drivers for efficiently operating in uncertain times and, one of the top “superpowers” of the OKR Framework.

    2. Focus on “What Matters”

    Another OKR Framework “superpower” is that it aligns initiatives and activities with the organizations goals and objectives.  It also:

    • Engages employees and boosts productivity
    • Brings attention to the goals for complete alignment at all organizational levels
    • Allows adaptation to changes faster
    • Helps identify and deal with issues sooner
    • Enables the early determination of areas for improvement
    • Directs employees’ focus to work collaboratively.
    • Budgetary control is not decisive

    The recession creates a scarcity of resources.  This leads organization leaders to want to cut budgets and allocate them to other areas in the mistaken belief that it will help the business survive.  In reality, it requires strenuous innovation and strategic thinking to not only survive but create an environment for growth post-recession.  Budgeting is only one aspect that focus.  Others are achieving operational efficiency and ensuring everyone works cohesively.  The focus needs to be on improving the business results.  A well-designed OKR Framework enables organizations to pivot quickly during the recession.  It helps you strategically adapt your goal-setting and budgeting processes.

    3. Focus on alignment and efficiency

    Goal alignment is critical not only during the recession but at all times.  During a recession, it becomes critical.  With everything under stress (finances, markets, sales, customers), achieving efficiency is difficult.  The OKR Framework helps focus all attention on efficient and effective strategy execution.  It enables you to align the strategic objectives for all teams to work cohesively.

    4. Track progress – frequently and regularly

      Focusing too much on planning and not tracking the execution progress generally leads to disaster.  As Peter Drucker said “Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.”  The “art” of execution is another of the OKR Framework’s “superpowers”.   When navigating through the recession, tracking your OKR performance ensures quickly reviewing progress.  Which in turn allows adapting faster, if needed.  You can identify issues before it is too late.  Keeping an eye on the OKR performance lets you identify trends.  It lets you make adjustments to get you through a recession safely.

      In conclusion, being in business comes with a lot of uncertainty that affects your success.  With the OKR Framework you get a robust goal management system.  It lets you pivot fast and prepare for unfortunate economic environments like the recession.  While you may set goals and develop strategies, it is paramount that you ensure everyone focuses on execution – that is achieving the OKRs.

      If you would like to know more about how the OKR Framework can help you drive business performance during a recession, please go to my diary and set up a time for us to talk.

      If you would like to understand more about the OKR Framework, visit our overview of the OKR Framework page.

      I’m looking forward to our time together.

      Gail Sturgess
      Agile OD Facilitaor / Coach / Consultant
      Working with leaders to set and achieve their most audacious goals, turn mission into action, and create an ongoing discipline resulting in execution and results. | Experienced in Business, Technology, and People

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