Nitty Gritty

OKR Agile Goal Setting

Keeping Objectives and Key results relevant, requires agile methods

Nitty Gritty 1 (1)

Agile Goal Setting

Once the decision to adapt to OKR is finalized, it naturally boils down to nuances in setting up the process. Although OKRs sound fairly common sense in theory, they are dauntingly difficult to adapt because of various reasons. That’s why OKR calls for constant refinement of the process, on an ongoing basis.

A look at the principles behind agile manifesto, shows how they are incorporated in the OKRs. The table below shows how OKRs channel the ideology of agile.

Principle behind agile manifesto Principle re-purported for OKRs
Highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early & continuous delivery of valuable software. Highest priority is to achieve top level goals by providing support via team & individual goals.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Be open to changing objectives during execution, so that the teams are in line with reality instead of achieving a non-priority goal.
Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. Frequent progress updates, confidence check-ins that help teams stay on track to achieve targets.
Business people & developers must work together daily throughout the project. Increased collaboration by aligning OKRs across functionalities.
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment & support they need, and trust them to get the job done. OKRs give individuals a free hand in deciding how they can support the team & company, under the guidance of managers.
The most efficient & effective method of conveying information to & with a development team is face-to-face conversation. OKRS incorporate communication in the form of check-ins & weekly meetings to keep a tab on progress.
Working software is the primary measure of progress. Key results that are clearly defined for success & failure, are used as a primary measure of objective progress.
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. The agreement of OKR cadences ensures adherence in the long run.
Continuous attention to technical excellence & good design enhances agility. OKRs increase chances of (disruptive) success by tracking results rather than activities.
Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential. By limiting the maximum amount of objectives assigned to an individual to 3-5, OKRs prioritize only the most important goals to ensure focused success.
The best architectures, designs & requirements emerge from self-organising teams. Since at least 50-60% OKRs are set from the bottom up, individuals & teams become stakeholders in defining success.
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes & adjusts its behaviour accordingly. OKR grading as an opportunity to reflect on how to fine tune the process & improve behaviour.

The organization that is already following agile processes for project management, Gan see OKRs neatly fit into the entire scheme of things. This way, agile project management can guide day-to-day activities, and OKRs intend to bring the agile principles to short & mid-term goal setting.

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