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Manage Execution with the OKR Framework

Most really successful organisations around the globe have moved, or are moving, to OKRs, or, as we call it, Goal-oriented Performance Enablement.

Gone are the days where we set KPIs at the start of the year, then at the half-way mark and at the end of the year, looked back to see whether or not we have achieved them.  That system just doesn’t work!  And, it REALLY doesn’t work in the tumultuous world that we find ourselves in.

What is needed today is a system that actually leads us to achieving our goals.  A simple, yet extremely effective way of managing results in order to achieve goals, in shorter cycles.

In the age of digitalisation, a quick change of direction is often necessary.  Strategic goals that were pursued in the last quarter may be outdated today.  “Traditional” performance management with annual cycles and complex processes is therefore difficult to reconcile with the New Ways of Working.  In addition, employees often don’t really identify themselves with the cascaded targets, and, very often, the bar is deliberately kept low, especially if target achievement is linked to compensation.

A new approach to the Management by Objectives (MBO) popularised by Peter Drucker in the 1950s and 60s is the OKR.  OKRs are the measurable implementation of strategic goals.  OKRs are not linked to remuneration and are deliberately formulated in a challenging way.  Employees themselves participate in determining how they can contribute to achieving the organisational goals.  However, this also requires a culture in which employees can assume ownership and have the freedom to help shape the business.

The method, which is quite simple in theory, often proves to be quite complex in practical implementation.  Existing processes often have to be rethought and some may need to be abolished and a new mindset has to be established.

In addition, a new management style is required.  Using OKRs encourages transparency, mandates regular OKR updates and review, encourages alignment between teams, and forces teams to regularly evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.  The style of leadership needed for effective OKR implementation is empowering, engaging, trustful and develops a psychologically safe work environment.

To learn more about OKRs, and how you can use them in your organisation, take the next step and enrol on our Introductory Goal-oriented Performance Enablement program.