Imagine this: You get your teams together. You run a business diagnostic, and you narrow down the strategic choices that would most impact your business.
You frame ‘Objectives’ followed by cherry-picking shared commitment metrics aka the ‘Key Results.’ “Kudos! We have written our OKRs!” you celebrate!
OKRs practitioners worldwide would know that it does not end here.
OKRs should actually be called OKR ‘I’s.
‘I’ is for Initiatives, which is where the magic happens.
To those who are new to OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is strategy execution framework, getting teams to focus on the most critical business metrics. OKRs are written as teams, rather than individuals. OKRs forces companies to move to Managing by Outcomes rather than Managing by Tasks or Inputs.
In order to move an OKR forward, Initiatives or experiments form a core part of OKRs achievement.
You can think about Initiatives as your Judo moves. In Judo, one doesn’t need to be the biggest, but one should play the right move to get the opponent to lose balance. These initiatives, when selected well, can have a huge impact on moving your Key Result forward.
Let's take an example of a team in a Bank, that is looking at a Key Result, ‘Reduce the Turnaround time for verification of customer paperwork from 15 days to 2 days.’ In order to make this orbit raising move from 15 days to 2 days, the team needs to work smartly. They come up with a bunch of ideas as a team, on how to make it happen.
Initiative 1: Write a script to automate a customer’s basic data verification
Initiative 2: Send an automated email or SMS (with the assumption that these pass the privacy laws) to customers to run a phone verification within 2 hours of applying for a loan.
Initiative 3: Make X calls per day to nonverified customers
These are sparks of ideas with a strong execution focus, that teams pick to move a metric forward. Fundamentally, they are more than Tasks.
Initiatives could also have KPIs nestled within them.
Here are some examples of Tasks differing from Initiatives and Key Results. Initiatives are the experiments that teams use to drive growth or expansion or anything else. All are necessary to move a Key Result or metric forward.
OKRs also have a certain rhythm when it comes to writing them.
Let's take an example of a company that is looking to accelerate revenue growth, through land and expansion strategy. They zone in on sharper customer engagement in order to increase retention, and of course expansion and renewals.
Objective: Implement our customer engagement strategy in order to increase customer retention
KR 1: Increase customer QBRs coverage from 30% to 100%
KR 2: Launch our Customer ‘credits back’ program
KR 3: Reduce page response time from 3 seconds to 1 second
KR 4: Increase deployment of high-value features from 20% to 50%
KR 5: Increase expansion revenue from USD 250K to 800 K ARR
When it comes to tracking these OKRs, the teams use an OKRs software like Fitbots to keep a laser-sharp focus on week on week progress.
Teams can also zone in on ‘KRs at Risk’ and speak through the Key Results and Initiatives that are stalling or just not moving the needle!
OKRs are achieved when teams take shared commitments and align key experiments or initiatives that would move the metric forward.
During weekly check-ins, teams assign ownership to each initiative. The great part about OKRs,as we have seen, is that initiatives can be assigned to bi-directional teams as well.
Let's take an example of Sarah from Marketing, who is part of a team that is looking at accelerating revenue through Expansion of accounts. The Key Result being ‘Increase QBR (Quarterly Business Review) coverage from 30% to 100%.’
Sarah owns an initiative to ‘Run 3 campaigns with customer case studies’ , which is assigned to the Key Result. The intent of this initiative is to get more eyeballs to encourage customers to complete QBRs.
The sharper the initiative, the higher the probability of achieving a Key Result.
In short, consider your initiatives to be your battle plan, and a set of key experiments one would take, to tame the beast!
OKRs are a new way of working. OKRs are not a project that is introduced to a specific team. It re-wires how the organization organizes teams, selects metrics to improve, and the experiments that move it further.
Fitbots is committed to enable organizations to get OKRs roll out right the first time. Commitment by the organization, coupled with expertise in setting and implementing OKRs with the right tools and rituals, increases OKRs achievement by 10X. Our suite of OKRs software with on-demand coaching and OKRs certifications, gives an integrated OKRs experience to teams. Click here for a Free Trial.
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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