We’ve entered the second quarter of 2023 with a bang, and we’re back with some expert advice on getting OKRs right!
By experts, we mean the OKR Champions who make it to our Hall of Fame by successfully leading and implementing OKRs in their organizations. This framework was created to suit the agile and rapidly changing business climate of today’s times by aligning teams to strategic priorities and cherry-picking metrics to show progress toward business outcomes. The key to finding success with OKRs lies in exemplary implementation. We reached out to top practitioners who have successfully implemented the framework correctly in their organizations to share their experiences and best practices. Here’s what our Champions had to say!
Chief Operating Officer,
Wet N Joy Water Park & Amusement Park, Malpani Group
Ever since we introduced OKRs in our organization, the entire team started to brainstorm on how to reduce the cost and improve the productivity of the team. The outcome of this brainstorming came in the form of a new way of scheduling the entire operations whereby there was optimum utilization of people, Energy, and Ride occupancy. This also helped us to minimize productivity loss, which in turn could be used in multi-skilling the team. Through the introduction of this strategy, today we are a much better team with the flexibility of repositioning ourselves according to the changing demand of our business.
The most important thing about having OKRs in an organization is to have a culture of overlooking a lot of unwanted aspects of a business and measuring what matters most. With this single management tool, one can bring the entire organization on one page. Everyone is clear about the short-term and long-term Objectives along with the initiative which the team is taking to achieve these goals. There is a direct and real-time measurement of your efforts and results. This tool also helps the team to make course corrections mid ways so that there is no need to do a post-mortem at the end of the given timeline.
Director Digital Banking,
One of the best practices I would say, really, is to work from top-down, right? I mean you try to break down those big goals into achievable little targets. A lot of the anxiety about such a huge topic. If you split it into, you know, many subtopics and then, you know, have for each of those, you know, a few items then you see. Okay, this is achievable, probably not tomorrow, but it is achievable over time. And if somebody tracks it, and you are staying focused. And this is what I would say, is kind of breaking down. Breaking down big goals into smaller achievable pieces.
It is necessary to have them because obviously everybody can be held accountable and you can track through weekly check-ins. But I do have to admit that they are necessary, that you have to have them for a definitely better system, Than let's say more traditional or you know, targeting and goal system.
Chief Customer Officer,
I absolutely love OKRs for several reasons, particularly because they provide a sense of clarity and direction that is invaluable for any team or organization. By defining what's truly important and outlining how to measure success, OKRs enable everyone to focus their efforts on achieving meaningful and aligned outcomes. Furthermore, I appreciate that OKRs establish a systematic approach to setting and attaining ambitious goals. Through the adoption of best practices, they encourage continuous improvement and foster a growth mindset, ultimately leading to greater success and fulfillment for all involved.
When it comes to OKRs, there are several best practices to follow in order to maximize their potential:
1. Less is more: Focus on setting a limited number of OKRs to ensure that the team or organization remains focused on what is truly important. By concentrating on a few key objectives, you can direct your resources and energy more effectively, leading to better results.
2. Assign an OKR ambassador: Appoint someone within the organization to lead the implementation of the OKR system. This OKR ambassador will serve as a central resource for guidance, support, and knowledge, ensuring that the process runs smoothly and effectively. They can also help address any challenges that may arise during the implementation phase.
3. Differentiate between OKRs and BAU (Business as Usual): Recognize that OKRs are not meant to encompass every single task or responsibility within the organization. Instead, they should focus on strategic goals and high-impact initiatives, while BAU activities should continue to be managed separately. This distinction allows you to maintain a clear vision of your overarching objectives without becoming overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations.
Senior project manager & OKR Team Champion for the Engineering IT team and Digital Products and Strategic Initiatives (DPSI) team,
Chief Human Resources Officer,
Our approach was that OKRs need to become a way of life to become effective. Hence, we approached this as a deeper change initiative. At every level, we took people along by
(2) Getting their ideas,
(3) Constantly involving them in the design of the initiative,
(4) Making it human,
(5) Having a tool that came with real-time support - not a "We will get back to you in 24 working hours." 🙂
Most importantly, as a philosophy, we don't try to "cure" leaders and employees using OKRs as a tool. Instead, we use it to "care" for their success and organizational success by using OKR as a practice. This doesn't mean a Laissez Faire approach. Quite the contrary, it means to design, discipline, and drill.
The critical ingredient of course, as in any OD initiative, is that we began with 100% executive sponsorship from the Founders, with one of our Founders, Anirban, pulling out enough time to extend a partnering approach.
OKRs is actually an HR item that has often been seen to be run by Chief of Staff or other central functions. The problem with that approach is that behavioral sciences are often not applied, and it tends to be an Excel sheet chase story. To prevent this, we ensure to keep the human alive, in the way we run it.
When I wrote my book on HR analytics in 2012, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith foreworded it saying, “His HR Metrix is, dare I say it, revolutionary.” What I called HR Metrix then, was, in many ways, the kind of approach we take in OKRs. Pick that one important thing (the diamond line), work backwards in terms of who needs to do what and by when, talk about impact instead of efforts, measure constantly and improve, etc. Hence, implementing OKRs was in a way, HR Metrix coming alive!
Soujanya is a Certified OKR Coach and leads Customer Success at Fitbots. She has coached over 500+ teams on OKRs enabling organizations to drive growth with OKRs. She loves working with teams to help them execute their strategy and make them successful.
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