Dec 21 2020
“No matter if you are a founder, CXO, HR leader, a venture partner, or a key decision-maker in the management, you are sure to have come across Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).”
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
– John Doerr, author Measure What Matters.
No matter if you are a founder, CXO, HR leader, a venture partner, or a key decision-maker in the management, you are sure to have come across Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Having heard about this critical thinking framework, we are very sure that it's highly unlikely you would ignore it. While reflecting on the benefits of this powerful framework, you may at the same time be wondering on how to get started!
At this juncture are you thinking, “Do I really need to have another item on my forever increasing To-Do list”?
The good news, OKRs can magically accelerate your business growth, without having another item on the ‘To Do’ list. However, what it does need is a baseline understanding of OKRs, crafting it right, discipline, focus and cadence not only among leaders but also your teams.
And, a great way to move from knowing OKRs to actually doing or practicing OKRs, is through OKR pilots!
All about OKRs!
OKRs is a critical thinking framework, which requires an ongoing cadence, most importantly, picking measures that matter most to propel the organization forward. OKRs force teams to think about driving change, growth or innovation. So, how many times in your current role are you doing this?
Objectives are qualitative statements that give clarity on ‘What would we like to achieve?’ They must have business value or outcome.
Key Results define ‘how are we going to measure success?’. They’re outcome-driven, measurable, and stand the ‘Stretch Test’.
So, with all this, where do our daily tasks figure? Tasks are the to-do lists, priorities, and activities that will help us achieve our OKRs.
OKRs shift your thinking from focusing on inputs or tasks to focusing on outcomes which really matter. OKRs are agile, set for 90 days, and build a muscle of cadence around metrics that matter most.
Here’s an example of crafting OKRs.
Objective: Implement a kick-ass sales strategy to accelerate revenues
KR 1: Increase conversion rates from 15 to 30 per cent
KR 2: Reduce lead received to call back time from one hour to 10 minutes
KR 3: Increase enterprise customer proposals from four to 10 per month
How to craft an OKR? The Socratic question
As you mull over getting started with OKRs, ask yourself the Socratic question ‘Is my company ready for OKRs and what outcomes would we want to drive?’ OKRs being a strategy execution framework, rest on your company’s mission, vision, and strategy.
No sailing without the captain of the ship:
OKRs start with sponsorship, and that’s best done by the CEO alongside the Strategy Office. With a strong war cry around OKRs, you need to rally your team around the North Star or the big ‘why’.
Champion the implementation, get a common understanding of what OKRs are or aren’t, and don’t shy away from calling an OKR expert to give you a 101 primer on OKRs.
It starts with company OKRs
In all OKR pilots, what emerges as a constant is to start from the top. Build the virility around the framework, by setting company OKRs & anchoring them to the company’s mission, vision, and strategy.
As a Founder or CEO who is driving OKRs, invite your next level leadership team to contribute to company OKR crafting. Use OKR language in every meeting – until everyone gets activated on driving OKRs as a muscle.
Choose your pilot team well
Organisations have different ways of choosing a pilot team. For enterprises, it could be CXOs and next-level leaders, or a group driving Innovation projects.
For hyper-growth startups, it could be teams that need to drive outcomes through intensive collaboration. Craft the best practices of your pilot team to become role models for other teams.
Get the right anchors
Generally, we hear that it takes two to tango. But when it comes to OKRs, it’s a whole lot more. You need the right anchors to make sure that teams are sailing through every difficult situation without crashing or just running away from the challenges. Have a well-defined checklist to make sure your key role holders can increase your chances of a successful implementation.
Consider using an OKR software
With team sizes more than 20, an OKR Software is a must-have to keep the momentum on. An OKR Software would help teams view real-time insights, flag KRs at risk, help teams capture check-ins, collaborate on progress, and guide them on writing high-quality OKRs.
According to the experience of Fitbots, an effective Check-In meeting is a secret sauce to getting OKR implementation right. This may seem like the same old tune, but the fact remains, no leadership enthusiasm leads to no OKR success. Check-In meetings happen weekly by teams and during Leadership reviews.
With a view on OKR progress dashboards against company goals, leadership teams review, reset & remove constraints to get OKRs back on track!
Gather learnings from the pilot and reset your process. Before going company-wide, it is better to know what works well given your company culture and growth focus. Happy OKRing!
The Fitbots Research Team invites you to be a part of our comprehensive research program exploring the need for OKRs (Objectives Key Results), key motivators for companies adopting OKRs and how/if it changed the way they approached business growth. Whether you use OKRs or are new to the concept, the goal of our research is to understand how you are leveraging this super efficient framework and to help those who don't use it take the leap of faith and gain greater benefits by using OKRs. We need a few minutes of your time to participate in our research and share your thoughts. Click here to participate OR Scan the QR code below.
Vidya Santhanam is the co-founder & CEO of Fitbots. She leads Growth and Customer Success for Fitbots. A certified OKR Coach & certified Executive Coach with 16 years of experience in leading business and organizational design. Vidya has coached over 250 teams on OKRs, while laying a foundation of psychological safety in implementing OKRs.
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