Top 5 Influencers of 2022 who have shown us how OKRs can change the world of business.
Outcome – A word that everyone is in absolute awe of, yet is more elusive than it seems to be. Achieving business outcomes and high growth metrics in a sustained, scalable yet multipliable manner is a dream harbored by most leaders and founders – and many (or should we say most?) would be ready to gain everything they could on the path to learning how to achieve these in the best and most doable manner.
While it's not easy to find the best mantra to achieve business growth without losing sight of strategy execution, there stand out a few who not only deciphered the code to achieve it but also spread the love for executing company strategy and goals using OKRs. They make it look so simple, understandable, and achievable, in ways like never before. Remember those times when strategy meets and company strategy planning was all about big terminologies which probably didn’t mean much to leaders 2-3 levels below company executive leadership? But not anymore!
The Influencers we bring to you have brought out the art of not just communicating effectively, but also connecting and aligning each team in the company to top priorities. And they have done this in a manner that each team visualizes, contributes, and becomes accountable to company growth like never before.
Here’s presenting the OKR Influencers that we always look up to!
András István Gróf is more popularly known as Andy Grove or “Father of OKRs”. He took the good old concept of MBOs (Management by Objectives) and realized that if teams were to be engaged and aligned from being good to great, their focus needs to change from Management by Objectives to Management by Outcomes, even better, Connected by Outcomes!
When Andy moved to Intel, he realized that while there is a lot of expertise, the challenge lies in executing in the right way with the focus on achieving the outcomes. Under his leadership, Intel grew from $1.9 billion to $26 billion and it would be unfair to leave OKRs out of the credit because it developed radical focus amongst teams making them collaborate and focus on a shared vision. In a world where Ideas were priceless, he created an ecosystem where ‘execution was king,’ because he strongly believed that without execution, ideas are a mere concept/theory. A maverick who believed that every employee should create and own their goal and that every member of the company counts and is significant to the success of the organization, Andy is undoubtedly the Father of OKRs.
In his book, High Output Management, he shares two questions to be answered to successfully set up the right framework for adopting OKRs:
At Intel, OKRs changed the top-down management system approach: suddenly, employees started getting known and valued for what they accomplished, and not just their background, degree, or title. For all companies big or small, Andy changed the way employees are valued and engaged to create a world of work like never before. We say to him, “Take a bow, Master!”
When the word OKRs makes an appearance, the first bell that rings in our mind are of course – John Doerr. He may not be the ‘father’ of OKRs, but it wouldn’t be wrong to call him the biggest and the most influential evangelist of the framework. He took all his experiences at Intel and brought OKRs to one of the largest companies in the world, with an insight into how they can connect their daily tasks to larger strategic outcomes.
Interestingly, not many may know that it was Doerr who crafted the name “OKRs,” which he assembled from Andy Grove’s lexicon. We all know the story of how John introduced OKRs philosophy to Google’s founders in 1999. Google then set on the path to achieving its company strategy with this management framework and the rest is history.
John Doerr says, “One of the powerful things about this system is that at any level of an organization you’re only going to have two or three, or maybe four or five, objectives. And three or so key results. So it requires a kind of rigor and discipline about saying these are the most important things that are going on in an organization. It’s not the sum total of tasks, it’s not the work order for the enterprise, it's whatever we as a team agree deserves special attention, and it really matters.” Maybe that’s why he coined his book ‘Measure What Matters,’ wouldn’t you agree?
Christina is a coach, advisor, teacher, and consultant. From insight to execution, Wodtke delivers design thinking with radical focus to solve top challenges in the world of business with a radical focus on bringing great products into the world.
As a coach to many product teams and companies, Christina leads the way with the approach that OKRs are powerful for accomplishing important things that aren’t otherwise getting done. When a task is important and urgent for all stakeholders, it always gets done, but sometimes those activities or things that seem unimportant might just be more urgent and get in the way of activities that are seemingly more important but not really urgent from an execution and impact standpoint. She believes that OKRs give those important strategic projects a sense of urgency, scheduling them and helping you get them done.
While she promotes the use of OKRs for aligning with the right and most important strategic goals of the organization, she makes a very substantial point on what OKRs are not.
“OKRs is NOT for Command and Control. Do not use OKRs if you want to control people’s activities. Only use OKRs if you want to direct your people toward desired outcomes and trust them enough to figure out how. OKRs ONLY work for empowered teams, otherwise, they are a travesty.” She has created waves in the world of OKRs and strategy execution through her bestselling book, Radical Focus, “which tackles the use of OKRs and startup culture with an eye to getting the right things done”.”
If you have read her book on Radical Focus, you cannot miss her unique way of personifying the showcasing of real-life characters going through troubles with understanding their tasks and its connectedness to company strategy - something we often encounter. Taking these scenarios as context, she beautifully brings out the use of frameworks like OKRs which can help teams align and collaborate toward achieving the most important goals with what we all famously know as Radical Focus.
Paul is a well-known name in the field of strategy execution and consulting. His experiences in this field and Balanced Scorecard consulting shaped his entry into helping companies differentiate the use of OKRs from traditional strategy execution and goal management frameworks. In the mid-1990s he worked with a large electric utility which co-incidentally was also one of the early adopters of the Balanced Scorecard framework. Understanding the differences between BSC and OKRs, Paul saw first-hand the power of communicating strategy through Objectives and Key Results and giving teams the opportunity to demonstrate their unique contributions to success. Even before OKRs took the world of business by storm, Paul identified the benefits of this wonderful framework and became one of the early supporters of this framework. He saw the real benefit of this framework lying in its shorter cadence and continued focus on the key strategic outcomes which helps its beneficiaries visualize their strategy in action even in fast-paced and rapidly changing environments.
Alongside consulting, Paul enjoys writing and has to date written 7 books that are translated into 15 languages. His most recent book, co-authored with Ben Lamorte is “Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs.” This practical guide to creating OKRs is a widely used book for understanding and learning from real-life case studies and examples of OKR implementation. He is the President of OKRstraining.com – a leading OKR training, consulting, and certification organization, which has helped many companies unleash the power of OKRs and benefit a lot by learning the right ways of sustaining this wonderful framework.
When we talk OKRs, we all talk Google and while John Doerr is famously known as a big evangelist of OKRs, Lazlo Bock is not far behind in bringing out his experiences of using OKRs at Google and the amazing benefits it brought about within teams, in not just prioritizing the most important strategic goals but also creating a culture of learning from the many failed initiatives.
He believes that OKRs are meant to guide strategy and power performance. With frameworks like this, when goals are not handed down to teams, people come up with their own goals, and this results in them having a great bond with them.
In one of his interviews, Bock says “Creating transparency and visibility to goals across the organization even as large as Google results in less sandbagging and less politics than you would in a traditional system where employees get rewarded for exceeding their goals. At Google, with the OKR system, everybody puts their goals out there and therefore, individual goals don’t matter as much as how they contribute together towards outcomes that really matter and make a difference”.
Today, even in his role as the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Humu, a company that nudges people towards better work habits, he and his teams are working towards unleashing the potential of individuals and teams to create greater results for the organizations.
We have all grown up listening to stories about Influencers either personally or professionally, While everyone strives to become a trailblazer in their field, there are only a few who have carved a path that others may walk on. What sets all our influencers apart is their ability to see beyond what’s now, and look for the real impact of how everyone’s efforts can be aligned to the critical outcomes. Most importantly, what they really had in common was faith in the theory and undying enthusiasm for spotlighting the benefits of this wonderful strategy execution framework to the big world of business.
Do you have any such influencers you want to bring out to our audience? Write to us to collaborate and share your influencer stories with us!
Richa is a Certified Leadership and Strategy Coach. As an OKR Coach, she helps organizations get laser-focused on identifying their strategy in alignment with their business mission. Having coached more than 500 teams globally, she focuses on helping build OKRs as a culture for sustained cadence and not as a one-time process. She likes writing about strategy execution, building high-performance organizations, leadership, and employee engagement.
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