Implementing OKRs

Adding value, the OKR way

Why some teams and organizations can succeed quickly with OKRs

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The values that ensure success of OKRs

The OKR success stories like Google, LinkledIn, Spotify etc. share a common trait: Value Compatibility. They believed in transparency, they were eager to disrupt their industries & above all, they had faith in their teams. Such values and behaviours help in the success of OKR adoption. Here are a few:

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Transparency

Rather than the traditional ‘share only what is necessary’ behaviour, adopting a sharing (almost) everything approach tends to foster an environment of trust & helps align the overall direction.

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Clarity of purpose

Be it through vision or mission, providing a crystal clear purpose that the employees can relate to as individuals, makes all the difference in the world when decision making powers are delegated through the hierarchy.

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Trust among stakeholders

When trust is inherent among employees, companies deliver positive results for every stakeholder involved. Ensuring accepted practices in the organization are based on trust, lets employees be free of other distractions and focus on the common goal.

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Ambitious goals

Goals that challenge the status quo, makes the goal setting process exciting for disruptors & ambitious. The ‘stretch goals’ aspect of OKRs aids in this endeavour, and allows employees and organizations to aim for innovations that can help the world.

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High engagement at work

High engagement helps in OKR adoption and at the same time, OKR adoption helps in increasing employee engagement. Finding out about the current engagement factor (Here’s a sample survey) is essential to understand the organization’s compatibility with OKR.

Success in OKR adoption is tightly co-related with the values put into practice by the organization. When these values espouse the underlying philosophy of OKRs, chances of a successful adoption are high.

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Getting OKRs right

The profile of the companies using OKR and their stupendous success – Google, LinkedIn et al – can give an impression that OKRs can be a solution to all organizational problems. But the reality of the matter is that these companies followed a set of vlues that are compatible with OKRs, and that ONLY practicing those values does not guarantee success.
For example, setting an arbitrary goal like ‘Increase revenue’ as a top level objective, fails to align teams and employees – since there is no concrete value attached to it. Trickiest part is the process of designing OKRs at the team & individual level, so that they support the top level objective (For example, providing solutions to X% of the population, and achieving a Y% increase in revenue as a result). That is where translation of strategy into execution happens, and the process needs to be consistently monitored for efficiency & effectiveness

Team Onboarding

It is important that prior dissemination of knowledge about OKRs happens before the adoption takes place, to prevent the element of surprise. Here are a few key steps involved in preparing your team for OKRs.

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Promotion

Different events can be utilized to showcase the importance of, and the reason behind, OKR adoption. Events such as All hands, Townhalls, Team meetings etc. can provide a safe backdrop for employees to get the information, and clarify doubts if they have any.

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Introduction

Planning a few OKR workshops or training camps a few days before OKR adoption can help too. These can be conducted by internal OKR experts or external consultants who are well-versed in the subject. Also, informing the employees about the framework and how it is being tailored to suit the organization’s needs, gives them a clear view of what future holds. OKR team play from Atlassian can be very useful here.

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Expectation Setting

When the Objectives and Key Results are being defined, it is prudent to have an idea of what failure looks like too. Anonymous surveys (here’s an example) help gauge the sentiments, and allows for a clear definition of what success & failure looks like, in the short, mid & long term.

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Recruiting OKR Champions

The process of agile goal setting in OKR differs from other methods, mainly because OKR processes may vary entirety from team to team. Knowledgeable and motivated team members can be designated to assist in this process as OKR Champions, and they can help in improvising the process based on initial agreement with stakeholders. These champions, who would be a part of the team, will also act as the gatekeepers of OKR processes.

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