Consumer demands and market circumstances change so fast, it’s almost impossible for companies to stay ahead of the game.
And should we even want to stay ahead of the game? By trying to only answer short-term desires in the market, we take our focus away from our long-term potential and purpose.
This is why it is so important to create an organization that is fit for purpose – with a clear understanding of why it exists and what it is aiming to fulfil.
Although it may sound a bit philosophical, knowing who we are and what we want is key if we want to build profitable organizations, with people who know how they can answer the company’s mission and what they need to do to deliver results.
To create a corporate community that is fit to win, it’s fundamental that you integrate Objectives and Key Results, otherwise known as OKR.
What is OKR?
OKR is a methodology that connects the dots throughout the organization, onboarding everyone to the company’s purpose.
The OKR structure creates a clear vision for how people can be of value and significance within an organization, providing a perspective on their work that focuses on impact, rather than just keeping things going.
Implementing OKR is an investment that will deliver some significant gains:
- It ‘cuts slack’ out of the organization. It will save budget and resources can be dedicated to things that will provide profit, value and growth.
- Increased efficiency is a byproduct of having such an integrated, company-wide focus on delivering the key results.
- People get the opportunity to be of true meaning to the organization. Knowing that nothing is perfect, they are empowered to do what they do best. It will give them a deeper sense of fulfilment which is a big win-win for everybody.
How to implement OKR
1. Synchronize objectives and purpose
The aim of OKR is to unlock your organization’s superpower, its beating heart – its people.
For reasons everyone can understand, people sometimes tend to hold back. We can all be guilty of shifting our focus from doing the right things to just doing the things right. It creates a clinical culture with leaking commitments and ‘just enough’ being done.
This only deepens the need for us to align true meaning to the work we do. Strategic goals must answer a deeper reason for why we do what we do. Without this, the organization may as well be setting a course for Paris and ending up in Rome.
The mid- and long-term goals of an organization have to align with its core purpose. Is ‘increasing net profit by 10%’ enough? What is this in service of?
2. Understand the key results required to meet your objectives
The next step is to identify your key results – the building blocks that will help you achieve your strategic goals, meeting your purpose.
You cannot know your tactics without knowing your key results. You cannot know your key results without knowing your objectives. And you cannot know your objectives without first knowing your purpose.
Create cross-organizational alignment
Improve reliability of team delivery
Bring focus on impact and value
“OKR is the key to unlock the organization’s full potential.”
OKR is an ongoing development cycle that focusses on output, outcome, and evidence.
By instigating regular checks and balances, measuring the work that is being done against the key results, you actually reinforce and add to the purpose of the organization. Keeping the OKR as the organization’s North Star triggers more dedicated engagement throughout the team and guides people towards their own personal significance within the organization, as well as its wider purpose.
Question: what percentage of your employees’ normal working day actually answers the strategic purposes of the organization?
3. Enable teams to perform their best
People have a natural desire to make a difference, to be of significance and create some sort of impact. We don’t want to be a cog in a machine.
This is why it’s essential to create organizations that give people freedom and opportunities to make a difference at an individual and collective level.
OKR offers a structure that makes it easy for people to create an impact. Plain and simple: doing things that matter.
One of the key factors in setting a team up for success using OKR is backwards planning. Without OKR, organizations would probably set goals and then run activities to reach a certain level of achievement, hoping that it will be enough to be successful.
Since there is no strategic alignment around these activities, set with no awareness of the wider purpose, there is likely to be significant wastage in time, resources, and potential impact.
OKR changes that game completely.
Once an objective is identified, our work is in service of it. We know we are making an impact and being of significance when we can provide evidence that we are meeting the key result.
OKR clarifies what is truly needed. Once we know what is needed, teams know where, how, and why they will direct their energy and resources, with a clear roadmap for evidencing their success.
4. How to keep your teams aligned to their OKRs
01. Quick Business Reviews
Remember that the people are the beating heart of an organization. Measuring their performance against their OKRs, using regular check-ins and reviews, allows the leadership to check the organization’s pulse.
If something doesn’t feel right, they can intervene and create a healthier flow of ideas, work, and direction.
02. Progress Updates
It is key to translate activity into measurable outputs and outcomes.
Without quantifiable measurements for progression, we risk committing to work that isn’t in service of our Key Results, our Objectives, or our Purpose. Making our work measurable means we can easily align the work we do each day with our commitment to our OKR.
03. Team Boosters
Teams deserve to be onboarded properly, so they know what is expected of them and how they can deliver on their commitments.
Organizations already commit plenty of resources to team and employee engagement, trying to push the right buttons and hoping it will enable people to perform and to grow.
But, when there are too many loose ends, people log-off and surrender to a disruptive state-of-work – without focus or meaning.
OKR aligns organization-wide structures and synchronizes ways-of-working, using the organization’s purpose as its central focus. Mentally and emotionally, OKR justifies ‘why we do what we do’. That justification contributes enormously to engagement, productivity and profitability.
“OKR is not a system of pure control. It gives people a framework to work confidently, knowing that their work delivers meaning and impact.”
OKR is not intended to overly control people or their ways-of-working. In fact, it is quite the contrary.
This framework should allow people the space to choose how they do whatever needs to be done. It’s like giving them a destination on the map and saying “as long as you get there by Day X, you can fly, walk, swim, or cartwheel to get there. Whatever works for you!”
The OKR framework acknowledges people’s expertise and authority to decide what is necessary in their work. They are triggered to activate their awareness and senses, to bring together knowledge, insights, and experience into their work.
5. Driven by data, fueled by ambition
Organizations are often very well practised in structuring their environment, but synchronizing cross-organizational OKR alignment is what truly connects the dots.
Teams transform from isolated cells into collaborators, working towards the same purpose. It is a simple mechanism that can only be facilitated by cutting-edge and real-time data, as the right data will illuminate where we stand and how we will move forward
Without qualitative data, we are useless. Without sensible people, we are lost.
The biggest dependent on reliable data is not systems, but people. Ironic isn’t it? That countless effort is made to optimize systems, yet it always comes down to the people who operate them. Why? Quite simply because the one big difference between human intelligence and artificial intelligence is awareness. As human beings we are aware of our surroundings – we sense what is written and not being said.
Like any other methodology or framework, OKR runs best on qualified data.
How to create a healthy data environment in your organization
Everyone within the organization has an obligation to encourage a physically, emotionally, and intellectually safe environment.
Safety is the primary occupation of the conscious mind. When people feel safe:
- We are more likely to be honest – and honesty is key in creating reliable data
- We can manage mutual expectations and create a common interest.
- We feel confident to commit ourselves to the outputs and outcomes
Check-out our great OKR parameters.
Every operating system demands maintenance and OKR is no exceptions to that principle.
When there is a loss of control, there will be a disconnect somewhere in the organization – but this is a natural effect as circumstances change so frequently. It does not take more control to gain more control, but we need to take proper care and attention to reconnect whatever is disconnected.
The weakest link determines the strength of the entire organization and, while it takes courage to seek deeper understanding of a problem, it is hugely rewarding to find it and fix it. Reconnecting your team when they lose alignment with the OKR potentially saves a lot of budget, human capital, productivity and profitability from further damage.
However, just acknowledging the signs is not going to fix the problem. Only commitment, determination, and action will.
Signs of OKR disconnect:
- Unreliable data sources
- Decrease of control
- Unsatisfying results
Building resilient teams around OKR
Larger organizations contain the phenomena of ‘worlds within worlds’, working under one name. Each world has its own identity, culture, (informal) leaders, success factors, and rules.
The different worlds may not necessarily blend in a natural way, and they should not be forced to do so.
But how do we connect the two worlds to unite them around the OKR? When there is an ‘us’ and ‘them’ atmosphere, it is essential to accept each other’s differences as soon as possible, because it is only from an accepting state that unity may grow.
A strong connection can be build on shared values and interests, common views and mutual expectations. It is a different focus and evolving conversation that will lead to confidence and (as far as is possible) control.
In case of trouble within the organization, it’s worth identifying your ‘unifiers’. The people who create a spirit of ‘one for all and all for one’.
Leadership journeys, managements strategies, collaborations, culture movements are great way to put the organization back on track.
It is often challenging to integrate organization-wide solutions when different interests are present. That is why it is key to create a shared interest that justifies the means and onboard people to the mission.
2. Common Views
Each and every one of us has a unique focus. It is important to embrace diversity while investing in common views. Unite people by accepting our differences, then move forward like never before.
3. Mutual Expectations
Creating cross-organizational solutions doesn’t just ‘happen’. People need insight and a deeper understanding of why change needs to happen before any progress can be made.
TIP: Appoint cross-organizational unifiers, make them ‘champions’ or ‘ambassadors’, giving them independence and autonomy to work in service of the OKR. Have the leadership support their work throughout the organization, allowing them to initiate and facilitate brainstorms, deep dives, strategy sessions or collaborations.
OREQ leads the way to implement OKR
OREQ takes the lead in guiding organizations to unlock their potential, by creating a shared view, managing mutual expectations, and showing people how to be of significance.
We lay down a structure that provides a solid foundation for success to be built on.
Using cutting edge data analysis, we clear the path for future growth.
We help leaders and teams clear the path to future growth, showing them how to connect the dots and add value by satisfying short-term needs while fulfilling long-term visions. It is never just a matter of numbers, it is about enabling people to give their best.
Our guidance is based on the principle of ‘do it yourself, do it together.’
We empower teams to explore beyond their limits within the organization. Not judging for what is lacking, but acknowledging what is.
We take all the ingredients available to make the perfect recipe, based on the leadership’s needs and demands, to fuel a journey towards represents success, meaning and fulfilment – inspiring, guiding and helping people along the way.
Our OKR services are designed to align complex organizations that work online and offline. We also synchronize new ways-of-thinking into new-ways-of-working.
We aim to unlock the organization’s superpower, so it is fit to win.
OREQ’s OKR services:
- Quickscan including findings, non-conformities, recommendations
- OKR journeys with tools to develop OKR minded organizations
- OKR methodology and implementation that guarantees structures
- Online alignment workshops to synchronize teams with OKR
- Team boosters that on-board employee on the OKR way-of-work
Contact us today to explore how we can bring OKR into your organization.