Please note, for in-depth insights & comprehensive guides about OKRs – Check out the following detailed reads, enriched with nuances & learnings from actual deployment across high growth workplaces. Check them here as follows: OKR Case Studies, A 6 part comprehensive OKR Manual on demystifying OKRs, The Ultimate OKR Checklist & Be an OKR Champion by measuring your OKR Capability Maturity Index. In addition to this, also see Google’s guide on OKRs for best practices & deployment methodology.
While the transformational OKR sound simplistic at a conceptual level, there is a lot under the hood that crystallizes when one set’s foot on the OKR journey (essentially, bcos more than a management concept, OKRs are more of a philosophy – culminating in to behaviors, one has to subscribe to it in spirit & actions) – not to sound preachy, but often these reflections come back in the face, should any of these be overlooked from OKR deployment playbook.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #1 – Train colleagues adequately: While OKRs are transformational, without a doubt – its fructification of value does not set in unless, not just the ‘why’, but also the ‘how’ is continuously highlighted & reinforced with the workforce. Along with the knowledge dissemination, there will equally be a need to hand-hold colleagues in defining the objectives & key results – shifting the mind & behaviors from KPI’s & tasks driven work, a sustained & deliberate effort can see the adoption & internalization of OKR methodology. From our experiences, most of the organizations focus on 100% deployment of OKRs, as their north star metric (success metric) – however that’s a vanity metric. Rather, its 100% internalization of OKR methodology with the workforce that validates the wholehearted adoption of OKRs.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #2 – Expect failures, encourage adaptations & embrace challenges: From our experiences, it takes around 1.5 years until an organization fully adopts the system and it becomes the de facto operating layer for the workforce & workplace to resonate with. In our interactions with organizations for deploying OKRs, we advocate shifting to practices encouraging as many mistakes as possible in the initial pilot period (in sync with Training approach). With nudges, pull & push, it eventually seeps into organizational habits & employee behaviors.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #3 – Don’t micro-manage OKRs: How does one micro-manage when there are goals that refer to customer and business value. OKRs are designed to enable effective autonomous work, essentially, which can not be delegated or used to control teams. Unless, it has tasks keyed in the system, which is contrary to Key Results principles.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #4 – Promote & Advocate OKRs at all levels relentlessly: When OKRs get embedded in organizational DNA, the discussions, right from board-room to team meetings become less about a certain feature, tasks or some initiatives. Rather the discussions revolve around the business value & customer value. The discussions, thus switch to value driven paradigm, when OKRs are referred for all the decision making, planning etc & across all levels.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #5 – Closely partner with OKR Masters / Champions / Experts: Building a supportive ecosystem (OKR Masters, Influencers, Collaborators etc) underlines the degree of percolation OKR adoption will finally achieve in an organization. OKR Masters, specifically, are essential support centers, coaches, process guards and facilitators in keeping the rigor & fundamentals of ideology intact.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #6 – Understand the purpose of transparency: Very critical & one of the fundamental tenets of OKRs, transparency is key for successful collaboration across functional silos. Limiting this, or not giving enough importance to this, leads to trust & confidence erosion – futile grounds for successful proliferation of OKRs.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #7 – Clearly communicate roles & responsibilities: Scaling up communication with clarity is extremely important. Ensuring that everybody is given definite roles to play, with clear scope & responsibilities, the goal, the purpose & how it will set the flywheel running – communicating all of this, with clarity infuses collective confidence, & conviction across the workforce.
In addition to this, keep sharing the OKR knowledge, updates, process changes, AMA’s & Open dialogue sessions across the organization.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #8 – Do not incentivize the OKR adoption: The temptation to fast track the change management is often followed by incentivizing certain actions & behavioral modifications, however, all of this is a short term phenomenon. Embedding of OKRs is a time – effort intensive & a deliberate shift to the end state. Do not incentivize on trading these off, for the intended/unintended counterproductive fault-lines trickling in the system.
Lessons from OKR Case Studies #9 – Build it your own way (& let it enable you to find your own way): A proven starting point with an advanced set of best practices, to excel with OKRs, every organization can develop and adapt them to their own philosophy & approach. Being an open source methodology, as against a templatized – lift & shift practice model, OKRs enable, encourage & inspire organizations to discover & find their own way, with their own magic.