There are a number of excellent white papers and ebooks about OKRs, so I’m not going to go into full detail here.
What are OKRs?
Just 10% of organisations actually achieve the goals that they set themselves, and that figure goes down to 8% for individuals. There are probably a variety of reasons for this, but the important thing is, there is a “new kid on the block” that can help to improve that – OKRs, known as Silicon Valley’s secret weapon for achieving business goals.
OKR stands for Objective Key Results. It is a framework that is deceptively simple, but, when implemented correctly, is remarkably affective. OKRs are about:
- Getting the right tasks done
- Setting and communicating the right goals
- Understanding how to achieve them
- Managing a team better and more efficiently
- A feeling of success.
OKR is a framework for quarterly goal-setting that consists of:
- Quarterly Cycle – Objectives are set quarterly
- Monthly Checkins and Status Updates
- Setting Goals – The Objective is qualitative and tells you what you want to improve,
- Measuring Progress – The Key Results are quantitative and define how you’ll know if you are achieving the Objective
- Initiatives – all the projects and plans that will help you achieve your Objectives
- Weekly Checkins – help you track accomplishments and upcoming Plans
- Share it with co-workers
- One Direction – everyone works towards the same goal
- Aligned – top-down and bottom up across the organisation
- Transparent – open, clearly communicated, teamwork
OKRs are Deceptively Simple, but Complex to Implement
Many organisations want the benefits of OKRs (teaching teams to be result-oriented and having your whole company aligned and moving in the same direction) but OKRs are not a plug and play solution. It is a framework with underpinning requirements that are needed in order to successfully implement OKRs throughout a company.
Good Knowledge and Understand
OKR knowledge and understanding is a must if you are to successfully implement OKRs.
- Do you understand what the purpose of OKRs is and how to write good OKRs?
- Do you understand the weekly, monthly and quarterly process of OKRs?
- Can you explain to everyone in the organization their roles in the OKR process?
You need to be able to answer these questions to successfully implement OKRs and get everyone engaged.
OKRs are different from the other goal setting and KPI methods that organisations use. Without the knowledge and understanding, it is easy to make mistakes and end up with OKRs that are not really OKRs at all. For instance, OKR are about defining measurable Outcomes, not tasks or activities as the KRs. Not many people are accustomed to defining Outcomes not Outputs!
Having a process in place is also important. It is easy to set your OKRs for the quarter and then forget to track them and ensure that goals are achieved if don’t have processes in place. This is why Weekly Check-ins and quarterly reviews are so important to successfully implementing OKRs.
There needs to be commitment throughout the organisation to using OKRs once implemented. OKRs take an element of drive and commitment to keep them moving when first implementing them. If you have read Measure What Matters, you know it took Google 3-4 quarters to become good at writing OKRs. It’s a journey and can be frustrating as you begin to find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t expect to implement OKRs and in a couple of weeks everything is running perfectly. That doesn’t happen. Remember – it’s takes 21 days to change a habit.
You need to have the motivation and commitment to train and coach people through this process and manage the overall change that OKRs will bring. OKRs change the way the organization thinks and behaves, and that means commitment and perseverence.
Implementing OKRs impacts the culture of the organisation. Organisation goals are set at the top, but then teams set their own OKRs based on the organisations’s goals.
- OKRs are not cascaded down – but they create alignment through the organisation
- OKRs are open and transparent – everyone knows what each others goals are
- With OKRs, failing is a learning experience – not a punishable offence
- OKRs are measurement driven – that means that you need the data to be able to measure
- OKRs focus on results – not actions and activities
- OKRs need trust – managers role is to ensure that everyong moves in an agreed direction and that team OKRs don’t
“hurt” other goals or principles and values of the organisation.
If these pre-requisites are not implace at the start, there needs to be a process to bring about a change of culture that accommodates OKRs before implementing the framework.
Openness and transparency are at the core of OKR implementation. It is possible to use a simple tool such as spreadsheets to get started. But, very quickly you will realise that it is difficult to keep them aligned and up-to-date, and difficult to share across the organisation. There are a number of good OKR tools available, and these should be explored at the outset to ensure that your OKR implementation is as smooth as possible and free of any technical glitches that can lead to demotivation.
Our “Living and L♥ving Change™” and “Successful Strategy Execution” Solutions
Both our “Living and L♥ving Change™” and our “Successful Strategy Execution” Solutions include assisting you to understand the framework, train and coach your people, oversee 2 quarterly cycle, and guide you in developing meaningful OKRs that are about achieving goals, not performing activities.
As with all of our solutions, we start at the top of the organisation. It is important that the executive understand that they need to set the overall objective for the organisation. And it’s important that they understand that the teams will set their own OKRs based on the organisation’s overall objectives.
We coach the teams to ensure that they understand the alighment between their OKRs and the organisations objectives, and that they take other teams into consideration.
We facilitate the process for the first 2 quarters to ensure that it becomes “habit” and that everyone is participating fully and realising the benefits – at all levels in the organisation.
Tying back to Performance
Although the OKR framework is not, of itself, a Performance Management tool – it’s a Performance Enablement tool. The results can be used to feedback into the organisations Performance Management system on a half-yearly or yearly basis. This reduces the need for a Performance Appraisal, as that is all part of the OKR process, and provides more accurate and less subjective measures of performance.
If you would like to organise an OKR Framework Executive Briefing, or just find out a bit more, please email us, or call us on +27836546480, or complete the form below and we will be in touch directly.