Clients often approach us wanting to do a full OKR rollout to the whole company. Our recommendation? Don’t. While it’s definitely possible and can be done well, we recommend that they start with one team – usually with the leadership team, even if just for an OKR cycle or two before rolling out to the remaining teams.

Implementing a goal management methodology such as OKRs is a big change within an organisation. If done well, it can change how teams operate and communicate. If done poorly, there is the risk that the OKR methodology will cause frustration, become a tick-box exercise, and create further overheads for the business.

So how do we make sure the former happens?

Start small. There are several reasons justifying our recommendation to start with one team; here are the three major ones:

1. Find what’s “right for you”:

There is no right way to do OKRs, just the right way for you. The methodology is highly adaptable, and there are various ways to apply it to make it suitable for your organisation. This includes elements such as the length and timing of the OKR cycles, and the cadence and timing of team check-ins. Use an initial team as “early adopters” to get as many of these right before you roll it out across the organisation; it will make the process much smoother and increase the likelihood of entrenchment.

2. Generate short-term wins:

Success stories and real wins help give the methodology and change that is to come credibility. It builds trust in the process. If one team has successfully used OKRs, they can act as internal evangelists for the methodology. This makes others more open to the change as they can see glimpses of how OKRs could help them. Potentially even to the extent where teams start asking how they can use OKRs within their own teams – this would be a great victory.

3. OKRs aren’t for everyone:

Not all teams or divisions need OKRs, and it takes time to figure out which teams these are. Take, for example, a sales team. If they need to go out and sell and they understand how, then OKRs may not be prove to be valuable for them. However, if they need to build a new sales process and unlock new channels, they will see value in adopting OKRs. Once individuals and teams begin to understand the methodology, they will be better placed to make these decisions.

While you and your team might get more than one chance to implement OKRs, you want to get it right the first time. Using a coach, such as The OKR Group to navigate the initial rollout of OKRs, and then rolling it out to the broader organisation will give you the greatest chance of success.

If you have questions, we’re always keen for coffee.

Get in touch so that we can brainstorm a few solutions together!

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