THE IMPACT OF OKRs
Headquarters: Bengaluru, India
Funding stage: Angel
21K School is a formal, recognized K-12 school that offers Indian, American, and British curricula online for students aged 3-18 years. Having started in June 2020, today, the community includes over 3,500 students and 225 teachers from 35 countries. The 21K School envisions imparting holistic, life-long learning, which empowers children worldwide to be an architect of their journey and produce good citizenship. 21K School provides a conducive, digital-first learning environment so children achieve academic excellence and also have the opportunity to explore their potential.
Their journey began when the leadership team researched world-class education systems across many countries. They reached the conclusion that online education was the key to solving many challenges faced by Indian students and other students who were in the most remote parts of the world. These students wanted to experience the best possible education from the best possible teachers. However, to begin the journey as an online school stemming from a country like India was no easy task, noting that online education was hitherto unheard of in India. Even so, the leadership team took on the ambitious goal to create the happiest classroom in the world. This would require immense focus, alignment, and resilience from the company and its founders.
Taking an ambitious goal to completion is never easy. Within the company, each team was working in silos, making it difficult to collaborate, leading to miscommunication and repeat communication. The fear was that this could negatively impact certain engagement parameters between the different teams and the parent community.
Although the Admissions team was operating with high levels of energy to get students admitted, it faced many initial challenges in convincing parents of the value, benefits, and credibility of online education. Parents had doubts about the advantages of 21K school and how it would leave a positive impact on its students. The Sales and Marketing team faced constant obstacles in creating brand awareness, not only for the school but also for online education.
While the school was focused on creating awareness for online schooling in India, it also had to prepare an ecosystem that was ready to support the smooth functioning of the school. Most teachers trained in India were used to the traditional concept of physical schooling but would have to become accustomed to teaching via digital devices. They were required to be highly engaging, tech-savvy, and make more effort to connect with their students than expected in a physical classroom to ensure that the students looked forward to attending their online classes with great rigor and joy.
Then came the challenge faced by Onboarding and Student Success teams. Just as the school prepared to run an online format of classes, the parents and students needed to be equally prepared to attend online classes. Their ability to quickly become familiar with the digital space and understand the requirements of the virtual classroom had to be considered. The parents’ primary inquiry was - “Is my child engaged in this format of schooling?”
The challenge for the team was to ensure parents were seamlessly onboarded, their queries were promptly resolved, children had their credentials ready for the class, and the teachers were prepared equally for the onboarding journey. This was a vital task for them to maintain high levels of engagement amongst the parent community
"When it came to improving, updating, and changing our system to keep up with the rising quality standards, that’s when OKRs popped up. We came across Fitbots and implemented it in our school. Within 3-6 months, we saw a phenomenal change."
The leadership team knew that all their teams were engaged and committed to the vision of the school, but the need for visualizing their progress systematically and how it contributed to the outcomes was the final missing piece. The founders got introduced to OKRs and they found that they could see measurable changes and visualize how each team was contributing to the direction of the school’s vision.
Onboarding of the OKR framework with Fitbots integrated software and coaching made it easier for teams to connect and focus on achieving the company’s vision. OKR Coaches at Fitbots helped teams get up to speed on the concept of OKRs, crafting them in alignment with the outcome-based framework and also understanding the critical aspects of the platform. Instead of becoming another task on their To-Do list, teams found that understanding OKRs and updating progress was an important part of contributing in meaningful ways. It took approximately 3 weeks to get the entire company on board with OKRs.
Described below are the immediate improvements that paved the way for creating the world’s happiest classroom.
Various departments such as HR, Operations, the Academic team, and the Technical team aligned their activities to one common goal of ‘Creating happy classrooms.’ This alignment of their OKRs, milestones, and initiatives was reflected in the Fitbots Alignment Boards. Through the power of shared commitments, teams were pulled out of silos. Teams also called out allegiance to one another to streamline progress. Having clarity in each team’s contribution also brought clarity in achieving results.
The company picked only top priority 3-4 Key Results to track progress and ensured that team activities added value to the company outcomes. This also helped reduce the time and effort spent on low-value tasks. In line with the KRs, key initiatives were taken up to bring contentment and work-life balance to the lives of their teachers because happy teachers meant happier students! Similarly, parent trust and satisfaction were important contributing factors to creating happier students.
Weekly Check-ins formed an important part of sticking to the goal and accomplishing it. Regular review of progress ensured that teams were moving in the right direction and could call out blockers and dependencies earlier, rather than waiting for problems to occur. Check-ins also created the forum to discuss insights and find creative ways of tackling a new problem via outcome-based and data-oriented approaches. For example, one of the blockers that the team found was that customers did not have a way of providing feedback, so they incorporated this feature to enable the happiness of their customers and by extension, their students.
By focusing on outcomes and rigorously tracking progress, 21K has seen drastic results in its success as an online school. Complaints came down and the creation of forums helped the teams communicate with parents to solve problems preemptively. This resulted in much higher attendance and engagement levels across classrooms.
Parent and student satisfaction levels increased while building trust in the online teaching platform. Increasing Parent satisfaction scores had a direct impact on the attendance levels in the classroom because Happy Parents were a very strong contributor to Children's engagement and attendance in classes. Most importantly, 21K School’s vision of becoming the best and most easily accessible online school for students in India was strengthened and turned into a reality.
Tune in to this webinar and reimagine education with Santosh Kumar AV, CEO of 21K Schools, as he shares his experience of transforming the EdTech industry with OKRs. In this episode, Santosh talks about the challenges of convincing parents about remote learning, in response to which teams used OKRs to align with the objective of customer satisfaction.
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