This is a topic we can talk about for a long time – why we love OKRs, why it works, what are the benefits, yadda, yadda, this, that and the other, etc., etc…
In this post, we’re going to limit it to three reasons.
To create alignment in teams
OKRs are about helping teams work together. So OKRs are set as teams – this could be a leadership team, executive team, departmental team, scrum team, chapter team… You get the point. A group of (usually between 6 and 12) people working together.
And as a team, you’d want to understand why you exist – what’s your mission? This mission should align to the greater organisational mission, otherwise someone is missing something.
This might sound elementary, but imagine you’re in the marketing team – is your mission to be a reliable support function? Or to shift the mindset of the product or sales or finance teams to have more of a marketing mindset? Or to radically change the brand perception of your organisation? These are all viable mission statements, with very different implications.
Exercises such as defining the team mission, and many others, drive alignment within and across teams.
To create focus on the must-win goals
Based on your mission, you draft a set of goals (the Objectives) to achieve within a set time frame – say a quarter or a year. Make it concise and clear and choose three – it’s not an exhaustive list, these are your must-win battles, not the business as usual stuff. Business as usual gets measured elsewhere.
OKRs is a goal management framework for strategy implementation, not for performance management. What are the three things that you must achieve this quarter to make the most progress towards your mission?
To create clarity in results
This is the tricky part – you are pursuing this goal because it will have a measurable impact on the business. What is this impact? How will you measure it?
And so you set Key Results to keep track of these metrics. Note that you keep track of results, not tasks – in effect the result you hope for when you’ve executed a set of tasks successfully. We focus on outcomes, not output.
It’s the opposite of micro-management. What result do we want for the business? Let’s say our marketing team is tasked to get 10 000 downloads of our app that just launched, by the end of the quarter. If everyone agrees, then they can go away and figure out the initiatives, escalate only if they run into problems or if they think they’re not going to hit the download target; then we jump in and problem solve together.
Implementing OKRs successfully will help you achieve a lot, but three themes stand out – it drives alignment across the organisation, it drives focus on the most important goals and it drives engagement of your team through clarity of expectations. We’d love to continue this conversation. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.