7 min read

How To Choose Between 4DX and OKRs? Which Is Better?

How To Choose Between 4DX and OKRs? Which Is Better?

Gartner’s ‘6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in 10 Years’ article, published in 2019, is a great take on the future of work! Little did anyone around the third rock from the sun, preempt how our world would change with a pandemic sweeping us off our feet, unaware. Gartner’s prediction of “We Working” is definitely a crystal ball moment, which is true.   

How to choose between 4DX and OKRs? Which is better?

Gartner’s ‘6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in 10 Years’ article, published in 2019, is a great take on the future of work! Little did anyone around the third rock from the sun, preempt how our world would change with a pandemic sweeping us off our feet, unaware. Gartner’s prediction of “We Working” is definitely a crystal ball moment, which is true.   

In an all remote-to-a-hybrid world of work, the principles of flexibility, freedom of choices, and most importantly, focus on accountability is a leveling war cry.   

Let’s take a step back and reminisce about the world of work, in the 1990s and 2000s.  The need for sprawling and plush office spaces, overt importance of face-to-face interactions, automation, chatbots, high-touch engagement, and performance being individually driven remains vivid in our memory. Not all of it is history, but the world of work has definitely made the shift from ‘Me to We’ or ‘We Working’.

“This philosophy involves designing small and flexible teams in response to fluctuating workloads, shrinking time frames, and intense flurries of information exchange and coordination. We Working will encourage businesses to create small, autonomous, and high-performing teams that form, converge, act and dismantle as assignments change.”

- 6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in the Next 10 Years, Gartner.com

If you really double click on this, We Working is also characterized by not working on ‘everything’ but overt focus on the most important strategic priorities which drive growth velocity.  

 

Enter 4DX and OKRs - The two frameworks that are entwined on the principles of focus and alignment for sharp execution. While there is a debate on why OKRs have taken the business world by storm over 4DX, the question always remains - How are they different?  

Before we answer that… 

Let's learn about the similarities between OKRs and 4DX.

4DX is based on the four principles of focus, leverage, engagement, and accountability. 

4DX calls for focus on the Wildly Important Goals (WIG). So, they are similar to OKRs, as both frameworks call for narrowing focus on the most important objective which must be accomplished. In other words, less is always more.

The importance of Lead and Lag indicators is underscored by 4DX and OKRs.  

If you measure and improve, lead indicators are metrics and have a significant impact on the lag indicators. We often lose a lot of sleep over the lag metrics - E.g. Revenues, CSat, Churn (customer or people). Lead indicators predict the success of the lag measure and are controllable by the team. Lag indicators in other words are an outcome of several lead measures. For instance, Product adoption is a great lead indicator of customer churn (the lag).    

Both frameworks ride on the principle of neither top-down nor bottom-up. OKRs and 4DX require the involvement of senior leadership and next-level teams.   

The importance of progress and viewing real-time is akin to 4DX and OKRs. OKRs software dashboards like in Fitbots (try it free!) give deep insights on OKRs moving well, early warning signs of KRs at risk, and predictions on how likely the team would achieve outcomes. 

Both call for cultural and behavioral changes in the organization. Both 4DX and OKRs call for frequent check-ins and commitments they make to each other, which will move our KRs/ outcomes. When this process is done bottom-up by teams, rather than a pecking order from above, the impact is stellar! 

Here are 4 Disciplines for execution that you could use - The 4 Disciplines of Execution in a Nutshell - YouTube

So, how are they different? 

The difference between 4DX and OKRs is the time frame of setting OKRs is typically 90 days in OKRs, and most often longer-term in 4DX.  The 90-day cadence helps teams be more agile, and reboot their OKRs to be akin to the changing environment.  

OKRs also make way for a powerful role called the team champion, much like the scrum master in agile. The team champion is like an internal OKR coach, keeps the rest of the team honest to check-in meetings, checks on team morale, and represents the team in Leadership Check-ins.  

Another difference is the suite of rituals that are laced around successful OKR rollouts.  The ‘Friday wins’ or early celebrations, OKR retro reboot at the end of 90 days build the work OS in keeping the organization agile and prepared for change. One can also be a certified OKR expert to seamlessly introduce OKRs to your organization, and coach teams with confidence.  

OKRs also place a lot more importance on cross-functional or bi-directional alignment. Teams take shared commitments and align activities to outcome metrics.  

Another call-out on OKRs is the need to inspire. OKRs are about those moonshot aspirational yet realistic ones, which teams craft together. John Doerr’s TedX is a great testimony on the secret of setting them right, aligned to the Mission, Vision, and strategy of an organization.

What’s the Verdict? 

We do not say one is better than the other. It is the popularity, and ecosystem of the knowledge base around OKRs which makes OKRs the forerunner. ‘We Working’ is the present and future. As Howard Schultz says ‘Success is best when it is shared.’ 

About the Author

Vidya Santhanam is the Co-Founder of Fitbots OKRs. Having coached 600+ teams, and conducted 1000+ check-in meetings, Vidya likes writing about Metrics, high performance, and leadership.

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