Effectively implementing OKRs represents a change in how you operate as a team. It means that you have entrenched the key principles required for successful strategy execution within your business, that you’re aligned, focused, using consistent language, and have the right habits in place. And hopefully, are making significant traction on your strategy.
This is a big change. Implementing OKRs is not complicated, but it does require time, effort, and often investment.
The likelihood of someone reading a book and implementing OKRs successfully is low. If you do manage to get it right, it is not likely that it was on the first attempt or that it was a smooth ride.
So many companies are tempted to implement OKRs on their own, especially if they see it as part of the role of someone on their team. It’s great that there is someone internally owning the process, but they don’t necessarily know what to do from day one.
Our recommendation is to get an OKR implementation partner, here are five reasons why:
1. Speedy and enjoyable process
There are different ways to implement OKRs, and your team needs to find the right way for you. This adaptability contributes to the power of the methodology but also means that the process of implementing OKRs is not always so straightforward.
OKR implementation partners have the skills and experience having worked with many clients, helping them to implement OKRs. They understand what the mistakes are, what works well, what to avoid, and how to fast-track the way to find the right system for you. They’ve also learnt when teams are feeling fatigued and need energy and motivation.
Why take the long and more painful route when you can take the shorter, more enjoyable route?
2. Staying the course
One of our favourite quotes is Mike Tyson’s:
‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’
Teams leave the OKR setting session feeling inspired, excited, and full of energy. This might last a few days, but then reality hits. The same day-to-day issues demand your attention, urgent matters take up your time… nothing changes.
All teams are at risk of ‘set and forget’ unless they build up the ongoing discipline. And this is where an OKR implementation partner helps. Sometimes it’s ensuring the check-in sessions are in the diary, the agenda is being followed and the template is being updated. Sometimes it’s a reminder of why the OKRs were selected – i.e. why they are important and why they are important now. Sometimes it’s asking the hard questions around whether the team needs to say ‘no’ to something, or helping the team figure out how to make the time and headspace available to work on the strategic priorities in the business.
The benefit of not being in the day-to-day of the business means an OKR implementation partner won’t get distracted, or lose focus. And so they can help you stay focused, stay the course and maximise the impact of implementing OKRs in your business.
3. Enhanced team accountability
How often do we end up going to the gym more when we commit to meeting a friend there, or when we are working with a personal trainer? Just having an OKR implementation partner increases accountability in a team.
But the point is not for the team to be accountable to the OKR implementation partner, instead, we’re aiming for the team to hold each accountable in the strategy execution process. Setting OKRs creates the clarity and commitment for this process, but sometimes there are hard questions that need to be asked and drums that someone needs to continuously beat to make sure this accountability is real and beneficial. It’s often helpful for a third party to ask these questions, especially for a team leader.
We believe that accountability is ownership, and ownership is a mindset. A mindset that needs shifting, takes time and supportive shaping.
4. Objective insight
An OKR implementation partner brings the OKR expertise, knowledge, and experience with running the process. But on top of that, they bring objectivity (especially with the facilitation of certain decisions), and an unbiased outside-in view of the issues at hand.
One of the biggest benefits of an OKR implementation partner is a critical thinking lens and strategic thinking that will stretch your team.
5. Reduced workload
It takes time to set up and run the OKR process, but more time-consuming is the ongoing coaching required for the team. To successfully shift the mindsets of the team, time needs to be spent in group sessions and 1-on-1s both listening and guiding.
An OKR implementation partner can fulfill part of this coaching role to lift the capacity burden, augmenting the leader’s efforts and equipping the team to increase their execution ability.
“OKRs are simple and hard. Running a marathon is also simple and hard. You don’t try to do it in one go. You build up to do it.”
– Christina Wodtke
Deciding to implement OKRs is the first step. Getting help with the implementation is the wise next move for a leader.