Don’t be naïve & set these 4 unrealistic expectations from OKRs

By on January 28, 2017

Objectives & key results have started to gain widespread acceptance beyond Silicon valley giants. The agile goal setting framework emphasises on stretch & measurable targets. Although OKRs have been around since 70s, they became more popular in the last decade or so. Especially after Rick Klau’s workshop at Google ventures lab.

Companies like Google, LinkedIn & Zynga attribute a good part of their success to adoption of OKRs. Companies, especially startups, tend to follow suit and adopt OKRs to make it big. While there is nothing wrong in taking a leaf out of Google’s book, the expectations have to be realistic.

In this post we discuss 4 such unrealistic & at times detrimental OKR expectations that leaders tend to have. To make the OKR adoption successful, it is of foremost importance that right expectations are set from the word go.

4 unrealistic expectations from OKRs set by the leaders

1) You can sit back & OKRs will do the hard work for you

Just like many other management frameworks, OKRs put forth guidelines to make goal setting processes efficient. Besides, the OKR tenets also tend to inculcate a sense of challenge, unity of purpose amongst the team members.

But that is not to say adoption of OKRs is the only thing you’ve ever needed to succeed. Ultimately, OKRs are just some collection of words maintained in a system of records. Digital or otherwise. It is the spirit of execution that determines extent of success or failure. Formalising OKRs & then sitting on your laurels is not going to bring you success.

OKRs are just a guiding force in making your team realise its true potential. The hard work has to be yours & it only starts after you’ve finalised the OKRs.

2) You will get OKRs 100% right the first time

According to many OKR experts & coaches, teams who try to go all out the first time end up discarding OKRs in less than a couple of years. Reason being, it takes time for individuals to absorb the concepts. For the processes to streamline.

Ideally, start with only a couple of levels – company & team. Don’t leave any opportunity to talk about OKRs and how they should help in the long run. Set up town hall meetings, monthly progress update calls to make sure importance of the OKR initiative is conveyed. Pay attention to streamlining the process than handling the rough edges at first.

Don’t get disheartened if the adoption rates are below expectations. Changing habits is difficult and takes time. You have started on a good note if even some of the team members are appreciating the potential OKRs bring to the table.

3) You will become (successful) like Google just by adopting OKRs

Google did not succeed ONLY because of OKRs. Objectives & Key Results just turned out to be a really good enabler for them. It just enabled Google or many such companies to reach to their innate potential.

Many a time leaders & managers tend to overlook the fact that these teams already had other ingredients in place to make them a huge success. OKRs just helped them along the way. If you don’t have the right team, right culture, right service or product – adopting OKRs won’t amount to much.

Just like most other strategy & planning tools, OKRs is a set of best practices. Idea is to systematise the high performance planning and stay on top of the game.

4) Each & every problem in your team will be cured by OKRs

If you haven’t yet found the product-market fit & you are expecting OKRs to solve that for you, its high time to take stock of these expectations. While formulating OKRs & executing them with high frequency you may possibly find the product-market fit, only adoption of OKRs doesn’t guarantee that.

Keep in mind that OKRs won’t solve every other problem you wish they’d solve. But they would sure help your team prioritise these problems to make best use of their time & energy.

Documenting the expectations before OKR adoption goes a long way in making sure you are getting what you set out to.

When you decide to implement OKRs, this is some of the most important expectation setting advice that will set you on the right track.  Have you come across any other irrational expectations that hinder success of OKRs, let us know in the comments.

Found this information interesting? Read more about OKR myths here.

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