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Please note, Demystifying OKRs has been divided over 5 parts, & you are currently on one of the elemental parts (Part 2 of 5). Across these 5 elements, we demystify Objectives – Key results, from theory (Part 1), it’s application (Part 2), the best practices (Part 3), to it’s deployment (Part 4) & the common mistakes (Part 5). Also see, The Brew’s success stories in aligning human capital to business strategy here.
Best practices for designing OKRs
Few questions that one should run through while designing OKRs are:
Does the OKR align with my company’s main business strategy and goals? Once the organization knows what it’s focused on and how it will measure success, it’s easier for individual team members to connect their projects with the company objectives.
Is the objective supported by everyone at the company? Once everyone agrees what the most important objectives are, it can be easier to say no to the less important ideas. With OKRs, saying no isn’t a political or emotional debate. It becomes a rational response to a commitment that the entire organization has already made.
Are the OKR adaptable and agile? OKRs are ambitious because they want to leave room for experimentation and growth. If you’re too committed to a single path to success, you might be limiting your team’s creativity and missing out on big opportunities. Remember to make sure your Key Results are adaptable and agile enough that they can be completed in many ways.
Does it have a clear deadline? OKRs can be incredibly motivating. As long as they have a strict time frame. Set a strong deadline and then check in weekly, monthly, or quarterly on progress (whatever works for your team and your communication style.)
Are your Key Results measurable and progress-based? Can you put a numerical value on the result you want to see? If not, you don’t have a good Key Result. The team should focus on setting Value-based Key Results instead of tasks
Is it aspirational? Does your OKR get your team excited? Can you set them off towards a moonshot idea where even moving the needle a bit can be seen as success? With OKRs, the goal isn’t to always hit 100%. Make sure you’re pushing your team while staying within the bounds of what’s realistic.
In addition to the above, there are a few common values & workplaces attributes where we have seen OKRs flourish & get best of the results, and the vice – a – versa, also holds true from our experiences – that the organizations which do not resonate with these values, would end up with either a sub-optimal output or an unsuccessful deployment efforts. These values / workplace attributes are as follows:
- Purpose: Either in shape through vision, mission or reason for existence, defining an organizational ‘why’ & tying everybody to it, helps employees get to better alignment, relatedness, decision-making & ability to impact, in line with objectives.
- Transparency: Fostering transparency & trust at workplaces are inter-related, & both, feed in to each other. Transparency helps teams with higher sense of confidence & conviction, across all levels to strive for objectives.
- High element of Trust: Similarly, with high trust resonating at the workplace, teams are highly driven to fulfill on their commitments & taking risks on other teams, churning the winning circle. (Also see, Psychological Safety, & Critical Behaviors of High Performance Teams)
- Ambitious Goals & high bar for performance: The ‘stretch goals’ aspect of Objectives – Key Results serves to make the goal setting process exciting for disruptors & ambitious, inherently, tying professional mastery to organizational competence & impact.
- High ownership & accountability: The organizations with successful deployment, resonated with high bias for action, empowering employees & teams with high ownership to drive the impact & similar accountability to its execution.
“It took courage to write an Objective – Key Result that might well fail, but there was no other way if we wanted to be great… Our stretch OKR gave the team direction and a barometer to measure our progress.”Sundar Pichai, CEO, Alphabet
If you aren’t ticking all of above boxes, you might want to spend some more time with them before hitting “go”. Success in OKR adoption is tightly correlated with the values, organizations puts into practice. Unless these values espouse the underlying philosophy of OKRs, chances of a successful adoption are slim, hence it’s always worth it to spend more time upfront devising the best possible than to send people down the wrong path.
Stay with The Brew on Demystifying OKRs for the rest of the parts. Divided over 5 parts, we demystify OKRs, from theory, its application, to it’s deployment, the best practices & the common mistakes.