OKR Checklist: Objectively measure feasibility of OKRs
When a company is handful of people, one can get away by delegating tasks directly. But it fails with a loud bang when the company grows to larger numbers (especially, when span of control is more than 10) with a formative company structure starting to appear. So, then how do you align teams to organizational goals & ensure that it remains the northstar? How does common goals get structured? How do one track those goals? The OKR methodology is a very likely answer to all of those questions. It is a popular and simple approach that is even successful at some companies. (We have covered OKRs extensively here: OKR Case-studies, Demystifying OKRs, The OKR Capability Maturity Model)
As more and more organizations are adopting OKRs to set goals for their teams, failure is one common theme seen with the first-time adopters of OKRs, especially when the approach is top-down OKRs. And there are some good reasons why this happens. Before implementing OKR, it’s important to understand that it often requires changing the way your entire organization approaches work. The OKR Checklist are basically some prerequisites & criteria (not exhaustive though), that the company should meet, to even start thinking before opting for this powerful & transformational goal alignment framework. If one ticks all the elements of OKR Checklist positively, then one is definitely ready to get started on the OKR journey.
OKR Checklist: Measuring the OKR feasibility across the company
What does OKR Checklist comprise of?
- Organizational Purpose: Why does the organization exist? It’s core reason for existence (essentially, the mission) + the projected state over a period of time (essentially, the vision) is quintessential for OKR checklist. It sets out an indicative compass, enabling clear direction & the big picture.
- Clear Goals: The above, when broken down objectively in goals & milestones, serves as a northstar for measuring the organizational success & progress
- Stretched Goals: From what we have seen, OKRs have a multiplier effect when goals are on the stretched side. Over medium-term, it does pay off really well. However, if the goal is to keep the status quo, or keep making incremental iterative improvement, then definitely OKR should not be in consideration.
- Leadership Commitment: A critical requirement in the OKR checklist is Leadership commitment. The backing of C-level executives gives company-wide credibility, conviction & directional nudge to the OKR program
- Organizational Resources Investment: OKR, being a mental model (& completely different from the conventional operational setup), requires a lot of unlearning, fresh learnings & iterations. Which is why, usually, it can take at least a couple of quarters, until one starts seeing the full value of OKR. Most of the time, the OKRs deployment fails to get any value, is either due to lack of Leadership commitment or lack of patience & perseverance, in terms of organizational resources.
- Dedicated Accountability to deploy & rigor: A no-brainer to be featured in OKR Checklist, this is the defacto thumb rule for all & any organizational transformation. There needs to be an openly communicated company mandate & dedicated accountability for building awareness, education & buy-in amongst the workforce with respect to OKRs, increasing the number of OKR champions, handhold & ensure leadership and functions (e.g., departments and teams) create OKRs (the right way), and ensure the governance is tracked with rigor on a regular basis
- Performance Tracking: Without tracking of performance & key metrics, deploying OKR program is a far-sake, & an eye-wash to persist with unaccountable means & ends.
- Readiness & adoptability of transparency & open communication: OKR is all about enabling everyone to work toward shared goals, this essentially means making all KPIs available to everyone. Now, for a whole lot of companies, this is a big cultural shift but drawing objective value creation differential from OKR Success Stories, one can only be left amazed, when employee productivity and engagement get better, by having more key insights & open communication across the organization