Top OKR Experts Share Their Advice on OKRs
10 min read

Top OKR Experts Share Their Advice on OKRs

Top OKR Experts Share Their Advice on OKRs

Embarking on the journey of implementing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in your organization can be a daunting task, especially when the desire is there, but the roadmap isn't. 

We've rounded up insights from global experts who spilled the beans on their successful OKR journeys. These rockstars share their advice on getting started and hacks of implementing Objectives and Key Results. 

For those seeking to navigate the complexities of introducing OKRs in their companies, this blog offers a valuable resource. Drawing from the real-world experiences of these distinguished guests, readers can gain a nuanced understanding of the implementation process, learn from successes and setbacks, and gather insights to kickstart their own OKR initiatives. Join us on this informative journey as we bridge the gap between the desire to implement OKRs and the practical know-how needed to turn aspirations into achievements.

A heartfelt thanks to our insightful experts, who have been our goal-crushing guests on the Goal Getters podcast series (in alphabetical order):

  1. Aditya Singh - Business Head: Jewellery International, Titan Company Ltd
  2. Denise Kanfield and Nizar Khoja- Co-founders of OKR Cohort
  3. Ian Harvey - OKR Coach and Consultant at Outcomes Thinking
  4. Mukom Tamon - Founder of The Chief Excellence Officer™️ Academy
  5. Nishka Sinha - Co-founder and CMO of Dresma
  6. Smitha Ram - Co-founder and CEO of RangDe
  7. Tim Newbold - Founder & OKR Coach at OKR Quickstart
  8. Varun Dhamija - Chief Digital Strategy Officer at TimesPro

Aditya Singh

Business Head - Jewellery International, Titan Company Ltd

See Aditya on LinkedIn

Aditya is a distinguished Serial Intrapreneur presently spearheading the expansion of India’s preeminent Jewellery brand, Tanishq, into international markets. Prior to this, he played a pivotal role in establishing and managing the Retail business for the renowned global luxury brand Montblanc in India. His journey unfolded from being the second employee to orchestrating a nationwide presence.

As a seasoned business leader, Aditya boasts an impressive seventeen-plus years of expertise spanning India, Europe, GCC, and South Africa. His proficiencies encompass Business Development and Sales Operations within both B2C and B2B customer segments. Throughout his career, he has excelled in various capacities, including Sales Operations, Strategy formulation, Business Development, and Customer relationship management.

In addition to his corporate accomplishments, Aditya serves as an Angel investor, offering strategic insights as a Social Sector Strategy Advisor. He is a passionate advocate for Design Thinking, an avid Quizzing Enthusiast, innately process-driven, reasonably witty, and a true People person.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

If I were to borrow from Nike, "Just do it!" 
And I think that nothing better that I could recommend to anybody, especially in this age and time when there's so much changing so fast outside, we need to be very agile. OKRs give us that structured platform for keeping up with the business priorities and still achieving your strategy. 
The only suggestion that I would give is that OKRs do not replace the individual KRAs. So if I in my role have a certain set of deliverables throughout the year, they will remain. Those are my responsibilities in my role. Whereas, OKRs will tell me each quarter: what are my topmost priorities as a team? This difference needs to be understood very well. 
Otherwise, this is a brilliant tool that any business leader or any individual at their own level can use.

Tune into Aditya’s podcast in Episode 45 of the Goal Getters podcast series. In this conversation, Aditya represents TATA Group, one of the most respected companies that truly knows how to get strategy and execution right.  

Aditya shares his experience in championing OKRs, and also sheds light on:

  • The changes that OKRs bring to an enterprise's strategy execution
  • How OKRs helped Titan adapt to changing business priorities
  • Misconceptions around creating strategies and strategy execution

Denise Kanfield and Nizar Khoja

Co-founders of OKR Cohort

See Denise and Nizar on LinkedIn

Denise Kanfield is a seasoned OKR Guru, specializing in driving successful outcomes. Her leadership style is action-oriented, drawing from extensive expertise in business agility, sales, performance management, operations, and corporate training. Denise has consistently demonstrated the capability to surpass set goals in dynamic environments. 

Her remarkable communication skills stand out, enabling smooth collaboration on strategic projects with cross-functional teams and C-suite stakeholders. Furthermore, she demonstrates a strong ability to build relationships at all organizational levels, fostering improved performance, streamlined processes, and the creation of agile environments aimed at achieving optimal results.

Nizar Khoja is a thinker, leader, coach, and enthusiast in the realm of New Ways of Working, Remote Work, and Digital Enablement, and is dedicated to fostering positive change. He is passionate about enhancing organizations through the cultivation of efficiency, empowerment, engagement, and empathy within the cultural framework. With decades of diverse experience spanning various setups and industries, from start-ups to large corporations, Nizar possesses a profound understanding of how to institute sustainable change tailored to specific organizational contexts. 

A steadfast advocate for creating a purposeful and high-performing team culture, his focus is on continuous value delivery. For Nizar, Business Agility serves as a catalyst in fulfilling organizations' purposes and aligning work from outcomes to output. He recognizes the importance of tailoring agility techniques and frameworks to meet the unique needs of each organization and group.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

Denise's advice:

My advice is, just start. Don’t overthink things, jump in, understand the concept and problem you’re trying to solve, and adapt the framework to what you need.

Nizar's advice:

Remember this is a framework, you can apply it to any problem you’re trying to solve. You can look at it from a professional perspective but you can have your OKRs in your personal life as well. OKRs are key to leaders, but also to everyone beyond.

To learn more about Nizar and Denise and their perspective on OKRs, tune into Episode 30 of the Goal Getters podcast series. In this conversation, they unwrap the challenges that come about during uncertain business climates and how to navigate them with OKRs.

Key takeaways from this podcast include:

  • What is the framework for setting OKRs amidst business uncertainty?
  • OKRs during Wartime vs peacetime - what’s the difference?
  • What is the role of Sponsors in sustaining OKRs?

Ian Harvey

OKR Coach and Consultant at Outcomes Thinking

See Ian on LinkedIn

Ian Harvey, an accomplished OKR coach, specializes in guiding organizations, from household names to hyper-growth unicorns, in achieving alignment and focus through OKRs. His expertise lies in connecting work to overarching strategies and prioritizing initiatives that profoundly impact customers, employees, and the organization as a whole. For those seeking a deeper understanding of his work, Ian invites exploration through the firsthand experiences and testimonials of his clients, who can provide insights into his impactful contributions.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

You don’t hire smart people so you can tell them what to do, you hire smart people so that they can tell you what to do. And that’s what OKRs are about.
Number one, decide what problem you want to solve. What job are they doing for you, is that really important to you, and can OKRs help?
Number two, hire a coach like me!

Tune into Episode 43 of the Goal Getters podcast series, where Ian tackles one of the most important topics in successful OKR implementation - the role and responsibilities of an OKR sponsor. In this insightful podcast, he answers three pertinent questions:

  • Who should be an OKRs sponsor?
  • Do’s and Don’ts in the role of an OKRs sponsor  
  • What can sponsors do to keep team morale high and help them sustain OKRs?

Mukom Tamon

Founder of The Chief Excellence Officer™️ Academy

See Mukom on LinkedIn

Mukom Tamon, a visionary leader, believes in motivating teams through the pursuit of excellence. As the driving force behind, the world's only bilingual IPv6 certification platform, developed with a team of two, Mukom's influence spans globally, having trained over 3000 executives, managers, and engineers in 40 countries. His expertise lies in designing and implementing systems that inspire pride in work, yield client-adored services, create captivating learning experiences fostering individual growth, and eliminate uncertainty in strategy execution.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

If you've worked around management consulting a lot, you always hear that nothing can work without leadership buy-in. In OKRs, it's a bit of the reverse. Without leadership buy-in, it might not stand. But without frontline manager buy-in, it is not going to survive more than nine months. 
So it is the most important thing as a leader, as an executive, you can do is make sure that you have one or two frontline managers that buy-in. Why do I insist on frontline managers? 
The front-line manager is someone who supervises the work of individual contributors. So why do I focus on these people? Who designs the products and services of the company? The individual contributors. So you want the manager who supervises them, who provides customer support, again, frontline people. So that's why the frontline manager is your MVP.
So make sure that the frontline managers buy into and drive this thing. If you want it to live beyond nine months, otherwise after nine months, they'll just be checking the boxes because that's what the bosses want. And they're going to get bored and go away. 

Tune into Episode 46 of the Goal Getters podcast series, where Mukom shares meaningful insights into:

  • What is the OKRs Quality Matrix?
  • How do you use the Quality Matrix to write high-impact OKRs?
  • Why do OKR rollouts fail and what to avoid?

Nishka Sinha

Co-founder and CMO of Dresma

See Nishka on LinkedIn

Nishka Sinha, a mother, entrepreneur, team builder, and avid learner, envisions survival in the digital era through online product or service sales.

As the Co-founder & CMO of Dresma, a Silicon Valley-based start-up, she leads a mission to revolutionize online selling's visual content creation. Dresma's AI-driven DoMyShoot mobile app empowers online sellers to instantly generate professional eCommerce images at unprecedented scale and low cost.

Established in 2019, Dresma is recognized for democratizing visual content creation, aiming to support 10 million online sellers by 2024. Having served 3000+ businesses from 7+ countries, they create 12,000+ images daily, reducing time to market from 2 weeks to under 1 day and providing small merchants easy access to high-quality images.

With prior experience running an offshore post-production services business, Nishka brings a deep understanding of content creation challenges for businesses of all sizes. As a former corporate communications trainer and consultant for top Indian companies, including ITC, Wipro, Genpact, and Convergys, she has a proven track record of building profitable businesses from the ground up.

As a mother of two girls and an entrepreneur, Nishka passionately addresses women in the workforce issues, initiating positive change within the Dresma team.

The Dresma team is rapidly expanding, and their journey has only just begun.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

You should be really passionate about the pain point you're going for, and you need to have a personal buy-in to the problem. Go for it!

Tune into Episode 31 of the Goal Getters podcast series as Nishka narrates her story of leading OKR adoption while Dresma scaled larger and larger heights. Topics included in this conversation include:

  • What’s the best time to introduce OKRs?
  • How did OKRs help Dresma scale seamlessly?
  • What are the practices introduced by leaders in Dresma to sustain OKRs?

Smitha Ram

Co-founder and CEO, RangDe

See Smitha on LinkedIn

In 2008, Smitha co-founded Rang De, India's esteemed peer-to-peer lending platform that empowers everyday citizens to invest in entrepreneurs from low-income backgrounds, fostering sustainable livelihoods. The mission is to broaden access to low-cost credit, contributing to poverty alleviation in India.

With the regulatory evolution of the peer-to-peer lending space in 2017 mandated by RBI, Rang De underwent a transformation into an NBFC P2P (Non-banking Financial Company) to ensure compliance. Smitha now assumes the role of Chief Executive Officer at Rang De.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

OKRs is like yoga. When you start doing it, you don’t realize the power at the physical level. The power truly comes through when there’s a mind-body connection, and at some point, a connection with the soul.
The other thing is to give it time. You can’t sprint the marathon. You can’t do it in two months and expect some magic to happen. Let it be there, let the team members absorb it, let everyone see the impact that it has brought about, and then move forward.
As founders, we are always in a hurry to see results. Give yourself and your team the time to absorb it, and you will see magic at the end of it.

Tune into Episode 47 of the Goal Getters podcast series, as Smitha sheds some light on a journey of using OKRs to create an impact. 

Key topics covered in this podcast include:

  • RangDe’s impact and Social Entrepreneurship
  • What does it take to sponsor OKRs?
  • What changed after OKRs were introduced?

Tim Newbold

Founder & OKR Coach at OKR Quickstart

See Tim on LinkedIn

Tim specializes in propelling businesses to scale by instilling a sharp focus on the most crucial priorities and ensuring effective execution.

The prevailing challenge for many businesses involves teams grappling with low-priority tasks, conflicting priorities, and a lack of accountability. Enter Tim, the architect behind OKR Quickstart, a transformative initiative that collaborates with trailblazing entities to shift their teams toward an outcome-oriented mindset, driving radical impact. Tim's methodology involves aiding the boldest companies globally in establishing strategic clarity, setting audacious goals, and cultivating high-performing teams—achieved through the proven OKR (Objectives and Key Results) Framework.

Tim is the innovator behind OKR Quickstart, designed to expedite the launch of the OKR framework for organizations seeking swift implementation. This refined program accelerates the immersion into OKR, drawing from Tim's extensive experience introducing OKRs to hundreds of businesses and thousands of forward-thinking professionals.

Passionate about collaborating with the world's leading businesses, Tim has worked with esteemed organizations such as ELMO Software, SEEK, Carsales, Immutable, and Connective.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

There’s so much to read and learn on OKRs. Do your research, but the key thing is, be clear on the ‘Why.’ Why are you doing it, how is going to help the business, and most importantly, how is it gonna help the team? Because if it’s not going to help the team and benefit them, you might get into it at the executive team level but pretty quickly, the traction is going to wind at the team level. You have to show the team the genuine value of the framework and get them to buy into that.

To learn more about Tim’s perspective, tune into Episode 44 of the Goal Getters podcast series, where shares his views from the lens of an OKR Coach. He covers important topics on making OKRs tick, including:

  • When do companies succeed with OKRs?
  • Why are OKRs Retro-Resets so important?
  • Traps and Landmines to watch out for during OKRs Retro-Reset

Varun Dhamija

Chief Digital Strategy Officer at TimesPro

See Varun on LinkedIn

Varun, a seasoned management professional with over 20 years of diverse, multicultural experience, has successfully led the digital transformation of numerous businesses in a 360-degree format. His expertise spans various industries, functions, and geographies, showcasing a track record of initiating, scaling, and turning around businesses.

With a global footprint, Varun's tech-driven business leadership has left an indelible mark on the digitization wave for 15 years. He has adeptly overseen all business functions, including product, technology, business development, marketing, sales, and delivery, leveraging owner-like qualities to thrive in a dynamic environment and create shared value.

Varun excels in scaling and leading businesses, reaching learners across wide geographies through online learning and technology. Recognized as top talent at Pearson and Convergys, he has achieved fast-paced career growth, placing him ahead of his peer group.

As a General Management and CEO-level specialist, Varun's strengths lie in P&L management, product management, creating and scaling businesses, particularly through technology. At his core, he is a marketeer, driven by understanding consumer behavior to devise disruptive solutions that create shared value.

An adept people manager and leader, Varun has built high-performing teams, ranging from multi-country cross-functional teams to small startup teams, and has led knowledge-oriented businesses with large spans of 500+ people. His leadership style is evident in the fact that most individuals he has managed express a desire to work with him again.

Advice to executives who are thinking of introducing OKRs

OKRs is a perfect system that involves a culture shift, takes people on beyond KPIs, and is also a project management tool because it helps you manage a lot of objectives of the company. If you want to transform, transform quickly, and do it in difficult situations, OKRs is a good toolkit to use. It also encourages companies who don’t use OKRs to think through annual goal setting. 
Across companies, we are asked to create our KPIs and our action plans by quarter. But I think that businesses are so agile and change so often, that quarters are very long time in today’s environment, where Chat-GPT changes are happening in two weeks. If you want to be in that agile environment in an ever-changing marketplace, somehow, Annual KPIs seem so dated. And in that sense, OKRs are the threshold. If you want to go down a tried and tested path, given that Google’s been using OKRs for a very long time, this is something they must consider.

Tune into Episode 36 of the Goal Getters podcast series where Varun talks about the impact of OKRs on learning.

In this interesting conversation, he delves into:

  • How to introduce OKRs to a 185-year-old brand
  • The power of using OKRs to drive agility and collaboration in corporate education


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