OKRs in the changing world of work

It is pretty well known that OKRs aim to achieve transparency and communicate better, be agile, measure performances, and promote accountability. Things that lead to the inevitable success of your company. Much like other popular management tools and frameworks. And to be honest, the way I look at it might startle you a bit. At the end of the day, not too many can claim “Any management framework when adapted well, works well!” 

Thanks to the changing landscape of work in recent times, a lot of trends and tools are becoming popular. With KRAs, MBOs. Score Cards and more being used on a daily basis as management tools and strategies, it is very important to keep in mind that one size does not indeed fit all. 

Yes, OKRs do mean increased productivity. But have you ever considered that they also mean more regular reviews and careful data analysis? So unless you have a versatile team that can support you, getting OKRs to work well might prove to be a challenge. 


Starting from the beginning


It was in the late 90s that OKRs made their way into Google. Just a start-up back then, this radical management strategy process developed by Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel, was introduced to them by a former Intel employee, John Doerr. Defined as a method of not just setting goals, but achieving them too, unlike previously popular processes, it boasted of a simpler structure, the ability to help individuals and teams set and track goals and eventually measure their successes. With the years, this simple strategy became one of Google’s most talked-about reasons for success. 


So what are OKRs? 


For most, Objectives and Key Results are a miraculous strategy that can be linked to some of the most successful companies in the world like Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Uber, Spotify and more. While a process that can claim responsibility for such success can come across as intimidating, what it is in reality is rather simple. 

OKRs are simply a collaborative tool that allows teams to set goals, track them and even measure success as they get closer to their expected results. OKRs also aid individuals, teams and companies create alignment around measurable goals. 

Are there any key principles to keep in mind going forward? 


Like most goal-management tools, there are several key principles to keep in mind when it comes to OKRs. 


  • Keep it simple 


With simplicity and agility being important features, adapting to changing times becomes easier with the help of OKRs. Additionally, simpler processes are easier to understand and implement which play a huge role in better communication as well as productivity. 


  • Transparency for the win


Thanks to its public nature, OKRs are considered to be rather transparent. And this transparency in turn helps employees stay aligned with the company’s objectives. 


  • Directional matters 


Being bidirectional in nature, it is a well known fact that OKRs don’t cascade from the top. What usually happens is that once the strategic OKRs are set,  employees can build tactical ones that align with the strategic ones seamlessly, making goals easier to understand and measure. 


  • Collaboration camaraderie 


By helping every employee understand the strategic impact of their role in a company, OKRs undeniably encourage collaborations. Starting with strategic planning and ending with working towards a common goal, robust OKRs ensure that successes aren’t reliant on only one individual. 

A few things to keep in mind: 


Apart from the principles, there are a trick or few that can help you up your OKR game in little to no time. 


  • 100% usually means you need to work harder 


It is normal for an organization to achieve up to 70% of their OKRs. If your organization has achieved 100%, it is time to rethink your goals. 


  • There’s no room for employee evaluation


While OKRs do. Help you track the expected and the delivered, it does not mean that failing to achieve ambitious OKRs will impact your employee in any way. However, a fear of failing might just stop them from being ambitious enough. 


  • Team spirit matters more than you think


If there are people on your team who are shying away from OKRs, chances are, the process will not be successful. Unless the whole company is on board, and in sync that setting, tracking and measuring goals become a cinch. 

In my opinion, to make an OKR process work for you, you need to be informed and you need to be patient. It is with access to the right information that you can educate yourself to take the right decision about implementing OKRs. It is with information that you also figure that having a tool dedicated just to OKRs makes quite an unwelcome dent on finances. But what about patience? Well, with patience comes the technical understanding that all employees need to make the process work. You see, it is only when you become familiar with the process that you’ll learn to customise it to your success.

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