We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Doerr, author Measure What Matters
If you are a founder, CXO, HR leader, or venture partner, you are sure to have come across Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), and it is highly unlikely that you would ignore them. You may be thinking about the benefits of this superbly powerful framework, that when implemented well, can supercharge your growth strategy. At the same time, you may be wondering how to get started.
The good news, OKRs can magically seep into accelerating your business growth, without having another on the ‘To Do’ list. However, what it does need is baselining understanding on 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!
OKRs are a strategy execution framework, which requires an ongoing cadence, to pick measures that matter most to propel the organization forward. OKRs forces teams to think about how to drive change, growth, or innovation. Something is a variation of what or how we are currently doing.
Objectives are qualitative statements that give clarity on ‘What would we like to achieve?’ They must have business value.
Key results define ‘how we are going to measure success?’. They’re outcome-driven, measurable, and stand the ‘Stretch Test’.
Tasks are the to-do lists, priorities, and activities that will help us achieve our OKRs.
OKRs shift thinking from measuring inputs or tasks to outcomes. OKRs are agile, set for 90 days, and builds a muscle of cadence around metrics that matter most.
Here’s an example of an OKR.
Objective: Implement a kick-ass sales strategy to accelerate revenues
KR 1: Increase conversion rates from 15 to 30 percent
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
As you mull over how to get 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.
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.
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 — Get tired of saying so, until everyone gets activated on the driving OKRs as a muscle.
Organizations 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. The success of your pilot team can be a role model for other teams.
It takes two to tango. But for OKRs, it’s a whole lot more. You need the right anchors to make sure the 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.
For teams with more than 20 individuals, an OKR Software is a must-have to keep the momentum on. An OKR Software helps teams view real-time insights, flag KRs at risk, capture check-ins, collaborate on progress, and guide team members and leaders on writing high-quality OKRs.
According to the experience of Fitbots OKR management, 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, 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 the 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.