In today’s diverse business landscape, many organisations have adopted OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), a goal management tool to help teams achieve their strategic objectives and take their business to new heights. Users of OKRs include the likes of Google, Uber and many other influential companies. But the implementation and use of OKRs alone aren’t enough. OKRs provide a valuable set of tools but the real impact of OKRs is unlocked when organisations shift their mindset.
OKRs need to be effectively tailored and adopted into the company so that it serves them best. As John Doerr says,
“OKRs are not a silver bullet. They cannot substitute for sound judgement, strong leadership or a creative workplace culture.”
For meaningful business growth and transformation to take place, a value-focused mindset shift is essential. There are three elements that will foster a value-driven mindset and ensure successful OKR implementation in your team.
outcomes mindset: shifting perspectives away from output
The shift of focus from outputs to outcomes is crucial for the successful adoption of OKRs. An output would be whatever is produced following a range of activities (e.g., a report detailing customer feedback, gathering feedback, conducting research, etc.). An outcome considers the effect that is achieved by the output (e.g., improved customer experience). There is a focus on creating value for the organisation and ensuring the end goal will have a strategic impact on improving the organisation.
An outcome-driven mindset allows teams to align around the same goal. When teams are aligned it avoids silo-mentality, it fosters collaboration within teams, and creates a collective purpose that will improve teamwork within the organisation. Further, an outcomes-based management approach gives teams the freedom to achieve this outcome in their own way.
experimentation mindset: creating a culture of growth and safety
In a culture of experimentation, failures can be transformed into lessons. Failures within a culture that fosters learning can lead to idea-generating opportunities for the benefit of the organisation.
OKRs thrive in this culture, because every OKR is a hypothesis. Objectives need to be ambitious enough so that you’re challenged but not unrealistic so teams feel demoralised if they do not get close to achieving them. When setting and implementing OKRs for the first time it is important to know that there will need to be adjustments made constantly as you are learning and tailoring the OKRs to your organisation. A strike rate of 60%-70% is a good goal. If you are achieving 100%, your OKRs might be too easy which will lead to the growth of the organisation being lower than its potential.
OKRs are a learning journey and we encourage teams to embrace the learnings, reflect on the process as they progress and in doing so become fitter and stronger at achieving their strategic priorities.
agile mindset: the key to empowering teams and delivering customer value
“Agile leaders create an environment where empowered teams navigate complexity with clarity”
– Michael Hamman, Agile coach, and trainer
The shift towards an agile mindset creates clarity, transparency, and open feedback.
An agile mindset, embodied through the following key traits, can provide a helpful blueprint for the effective execution of OKRs within an organisation:
- Shortened delivery of value: The OKR methodology breaks long-term strategic cycles down into quarterly deliverables, with specific and measurable Key Results that are intended to derive value for the business in the short-term, as opposed to simply delivering outputs.
- Quick iterations: Regularly checking-in on OKRs (either weekly or fortnightly) helps to keep teams aligned. Further, quarterly Reflect and Reset sessions allow teams to pivot OKRs to keep delivering value against their strategic priorities.
- Continuous improvement: Another benefit of the quarterly Reflect and Reset session is the “reflection” part – forcing us to stop implementing blindly, think about our process and ways to improve that process.
- Self-organising teams: When Agile works well, teams organise themselves around their commitments. This mindset, empowers teams to own their Objectives and Key Results, increasing accountability and buy-in towards achieving these goals.
- Frequent and transparent communication: Check-ins and stand-ups allow the teams to openly communicate and realign, which in turn allows for the team to be adaptable and responsive towards change. This leads to a faster response time to make changes and to develop better quality work at more frequent intervals.
“A value-driven mindset is a cornerstone to OKR success, ensuring objectives truly matter.”
– Paul Niven, OKR expert and Author
To reap the benefits of OKRs, the shift to a value-focused mindset is crucial as it lays the foundation for success. The adoption of an outcome-focused mindset enables organisations to focus on developing key strategic impact that is most valuable and useful for the organisation in the long term. The experimentation mindset enhances creativity and allows for more growth opportunities for individuals, for teams and for the organisation. The agile mindset allows for all employees to be aligned within the organisation as well as adopt flexibility and adaptability in delivering value aligned to their strategic priorities.
Adopting OKRs is a journey that goes beyond just a helpful toolset. To truly realise the full potential of OKRs and achieve maximum impact, a value-driven mindset shift is key.
Reflect and ask yourself. “How do I need to shift my mindset for our OKRs to be implemented effectively?” This shift towards a value-focused mindset might just be what you need to effectively implement your OKRs and take your business to new heights.
If you have questions, we’re always keen for coffee.
Get in touch so that we can brainstorm a few solutions together!