OKRs (Objectives and Key Results): Team Training and Execution Planning
Interest in the OKR method of listing, tracking, and driving focused execution towards achieving the primary goals of an organization continues to increase.
This structure and practice was first brought into the spotlight through John Doerr’s work ‘Measure What Matters’ and has since emerged as the preferred system for countless top performing organizations and leadership teams.
Of the numerous requests coming to us every month regarding interest in OKRs, common situations include, but are not limited to:
- New CEO wanting to construct a new culture around organizational goal setting. alignment, and transparency
- CEO and/or executives have heard about OKRs and are looking for a training workshop to educate them further on the fundamentals
- Executive leadership team have committed to OKRs and are interested in the assistance of an outside facilitator and coach
- OKR basis is in place but some external focus and accountability is requested to maintain the disciplines of quarterly cadence and tracking of progress
- CEO and executives are already engaged in program with us and want to begin OKR execution planning in earnest
- OKR routines and execution is already well established but there is interest in our custom workshop retreats for added context and team building
Foundational to your organization’s progress using the OKR framework are two primary pillars:
1. Your Objectives should be fueled by both new levels of performance and alignment with core values, mission, and in complete service to a company’s 5 main constituents. Objectives should be inspiring to their author/owner.
2. Your KR’s should be unequivocally paramount in meeting the objective. KR’s must be completely measurable (standard) or milestone based.
We are working continuously with our client organizations to harness the upper limit of their strategic thinking and project it across into inspirational and aspirational Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Many executive leadership teams will use a strategy map (often based on the 5 disciplines and 5 constituents) to help create but also audit their OKRs to ad another layer of congruency to values and purpose. This commitment to alignment resonates throughout the levels of an organization chart and brings new levels of engagement and connectivity in team members from leading executives down to mid-managers.
Organizations we work with are building their OKR infrastructure through:
- OKR conceptual training from Action Edge
- Action Edge facilitated annual (organization) and quarterly (department) OKR setting workshops
- Inserting a Action Edge OKR champion and facilitator within the organization
- Identifying and matching with an Action Edge coach, key individuals who will be mentored to be internal OKR champions
- Using OKRs as a component of a larger Action Edge executive development program
- And more.
OKRs – Why the surge in popularity? CEOs and executives we speak with often reference the following when we ask, “why OKRs, and why OKRs now?”
Most, if not all, of the organizations we work with are facing an outlook where marketplace complexity is continually increasing, and therefore the need for simplicity in strategic execution becomes greater. OKRs are the answer.
Progress with Purpose
Organizations are comprised of people, and people need, deserve, and covet ‘purpose’ behind their actions to perform both optimally and with enjoyment. The OKR practice encourages ‘moonshot’ level objectives that would both serve as milestone highwater marks in company performance, as well as community, social, and societal impact. Progressive leaders and organizations love that traditional growth measurements are all anchored to purpose, mission, and values using the OKR system.
All Cards on the Table
As top team cultures move more and more towards the perspective of ‘I work with this organization’ and not ‘I work for this organization’ the transparency of OKRs is widely embraced. All OKRs and progress towards each should be in plain view to all. This is obviously in complete contrast to the days of of the targets and goals of your manager being none of your business, or at best – a mystery. OKRs insist upon an unencumbered line of sight of what we’re all shooting for and how we’re all progressing.
Connecting Vertically and Across
It’s often as simple and direct as one of the organization’s Key Results cascading down to become an Objective of the marketing department. And sometimes the connection of OKRs is not as direct. The goal remains however to have maximum alignment of efforts and direction. We have had requests from organizations to simply audit their OKRs for vertical and horizontal connectivity as well for relevance/impact to their strategy map, etc.
It’s already been stated above that OKRs bring simplicity to strategic execution, and that comes only on the heels of the hardest work of all – thinking. OKRs cannot be jotted down while on auto-pilot – they simply will not hold up to one or more of the various suggested criteria unless deep, creative, symbiotic, and big thinking has been put in. Breakthrough results come from breakthrough actions, which come from breakthrough decisions, which come from breakthrough thinking; the crafting and re-crafting of OKRs demands this level of thinking. The leaders implementing OKRs into their organizations are eager to bring this challenge to their senior leaders where everybody is expected to actively think, and think hard – every quarter.
Elimination of Tangents
Perhaps the greatest interest in adopting the OKR methodology stems from the heightened intolerance of time, energy, and financial investments into anything that does not push an OKR forward.
How Organizations Engage Us to Catalyze OKR Practices
- An embedded component of their current leadership or executive development program
- A focused program to train the leaders and lead the OKR process throughout the organization
- A phased program of typically 3 month blocks, where the organization decides at each transition period to proceed to the next phase or not.
- A custom leadership retreat style workshop presenting the introduction of OKR based organization goal setting
- Custom – all these options begin with a discussion and consultation to help us understand what is most important to you, and as such – custom and/or hybrid launch points often occur
“OKRs have helped lead us to 10x growth many times over.”
– Google Co-Founder, Larry Page