According to There Be Giants’ 2021 OKR Annual Report, 90% of organisations name ‘alignment’ as the reason for adopting OKR. In my experience most people think of alignment as a way of knowing what other teams, their peers, their direct reports or what their managers are working on today, this week, next month or next quarter. While this sort of alignment is important, I want to show you another kind of alignment. Let’s call it “Strategic Alignment”.
The ways how we work and manage are mostly approaches that date back to late 19th and early-mid 20th century. But how can we expect to solve today’s problems (21st century!) with yesterday’s solutions? In an era of rapidly advancing technology, even a solution we used 2 years ago might not work today and if we’re actually trying to shape tomorrow’s world, it is obvious that we need to change the way we work radically.
One of the most crucial misconceptions of OKR is that the Key Results reflect the same old business KPIs. I stopped counting how many times I’ve seen revenues, profit, market share and similar KPIs in the OKR sets. On the other hand, I also see metrics that measure the productivity, as if the teams had the urge to show how busy they are. “Deliver XX story points”, “Provide 3 concepts”, “Interview 100 people” are only a few of these types of Key Results I’ve seen in the field. But what is the difference between KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and Key Results? Is a metric all what’s needed in a Key Result? In this article I’ll share some of my insights the bring light into different types of metrics and when and how to use them in OKR context.
End of the year means beginning of the year. The client requests I received in Q4 to review/ restart their Objectives and Key Results was more than I could handle.
It seems like companies had their OKR sets almost unreviewed throughout the year, but now that the year comes to an end, they take a look at them again after months of neglect, because they need to plan the next year. This phenomenon is called “Set and Forget”.
The more OKR has gained popularity, the more it is misunderstood and misused. Objectives and Key Results can unlock superpowers such as focus and alignment, however these require certain principles.
In all these years I’ve worked for/with Scrum Teams, one common problem I’ve observed was that most of the teams didn’t see the big picture. The scrum teams I’ve worked with found the combination of OKR & Scrum very helpful as they had much more clarity and transparency about their focus and sprint goals. Also reviewing their outcomes after the sprints gave them a sense of contributing to something bigger and started thinking with the end in mind.
I get the question a lot, what books about OKRs I recommend. Here is my TOP 10 Books about OKRs. Of course there are many more valuable resources like podcasts, blogs, keynotes, meet-ups, etc., which I’m going to list separately.
You heard about OKRs and know how to write an Objective and 3-5 Key Results per Objective. But based on which information will you choose your Objectives and what happens after writing measurable Key Results? Even if you reach them 100% how do you know what was it good for? Let me start the story from the beginning. The OKR Process is just one part of the big picture. Meaningful OKRs require a fruitful ground where they can flourish. I visualised the process from the beginning how I start it when I coach a team.
OKR is a goal setting framework that helps to reach a vision (of a person or an organisation) in manageable steps with measurable goals. OKRs make the rather abstract intangible vision and long term goals more tangible. Measurable goals track the process and tell if you’re on the right track.