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:
Weekly Checkins – help you track accomplishments and upcoming Plans
- 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
- 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 the purpose of the OKR Framework and how to write good OKRs?
- Do you understand the weekly, monthly and quarterly processes of the OKR Framework?
- Do you understand the role that Communication, Feedback and Recognition play in the OKR Framework?
- Can you explain to everyone in the organisation 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, the O in OKR stands for Objective – a non-quantitive statement of the impact to be achieved, e.g. “Delight our customers”. The KR stands for Key Results which are measurable Outcomes that lead to the achievement of the O, e.g. “Increase our Net Promotor Score from 6 to 8”. Not many people are accustomed to defining Outcomes instead of Outputs or task lists! KRs are about metrics, and not many organisations have the right metrics available at the start of the implementation process.
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 “Holistic Change Facilitation” and “Successful Strategy Execution” Solutions
Both our “Holistic Change Facilitation” 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. It creates a direct link between employee performance and organisational performance. 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.
The Versatility of theOKR Framework
The OKR Framework can be, and is, used in a variety of situations that organisations might find themselves in. To find out more, go to our Knowledge Base, or download any of our brochures below.
|Area of Interest||Download Flyer|
|OKRs for Change||Execution Excellence with the OKR Framework|
OKRs for Growing and Scaling
|Scaling for Success: How the OKR Framework Drives Hyper-Growth|
|OKRs and Digitalisation||Navigate Ditialization with the OKR Framework|
Use OKRs to Manage through the Recession
|How to Stay Recession-Proof: Play it Smart with OKRs|
|Using OKRs for major organisational change (M&A, Restructuring, etc.)||Unlocking Success: How the OKR Framework can Drive Major Organisational Change|
|OKRs for the CHRO||CHROs .. Improve Individual AND Organisation Performance with OKRs!|
|OKRs for the CIO||Coming Soon|
|OKRs in Government||Coming Soon|
|OKRs for NPOs||Coming Soon||OKRs for Investors||The Safe Bet: Why Investors should Consider Companies that USe the OKR Framework|
If you would like to join us for a discovery call on the OKR Framework , or just find out a bit more, please complete the form below and we will be in touch directly.