OKR’s (Objectives and Key Results) are a framework to manage your company, department and team objectives for the short term (usually quarterly) and long term (1 year) efficiently.
This framework is widely adopted at many of the top tech companies and I have been using it to manage my team’s objectives for the past 3 years. And during the course of implementing it, using it and learning how to better utilize it, I learned a few things that I would like to share.
I will be writing another post soon to introduce and explain the basics on how to set them up properly. but in this post I am sort of jumping to a more advanced topic.
Make no mistake about it, depending on your company’s current culture, OKR’s is anywhere in between a small improvement or modification to your company’s culture, or a big cultural change and in most cases its probably something in between, which also means its a change that needs time!
The benefit of such changes take time and knowing this beforehand helps set the right expectations and allows everyone to be comfortable with experimenting and trying it without the fear of doing a mistake, team’s will have to get used to the monthly review cadence, get familiar with sizing their opportunities or main streams of work that will deliver on their key results.
I sort of touched on this earlier, teams need to be able to first think outcomes not outputs, meaning, what is the outcome or business impact expected from the work that the team will be doing ? usually in terms of KPI’s and metrics that will improve based on this work, once figured out, they will need to roughly estimate and size what is expected as an outcome of the work they planned to.
This is not easy, the more experienced the team is with the product, customer and market the more likely they will be able to come up with realistic targets and their moon shots, if its a new product area this will be more difficult but still doable, in many cases we had to run AA experiments to measure traffic, baselines of our primary and secondary metrics, and then combined with qualitative and quantitative analysis, we were able to set good targets for our selves that were not too hard to achieve nor easy to accomplish.
Peer team reviews
A healthy culture of peer feedback is priceless, where co-workers can review and offer feedback on OKR’s of other teams is very useful and offers a number of benefits:
- Makes sure team’s are aware of what others are doing in their track/department, this eases communication and uncovers opportunities to collaborate or, in some cases, highlights potential areas of conflict.
- Shared learnings, in many cases other team’s might have tried or have run across team’s trying to achieve similar objectives and might be able to share insights that can inform the product discovery or delivery.
- Creates transparency, when knowing what are other team’s targets and objectives, how are they progressing towards their goals, it also sorts of creates a healthy competition and inspires learnings, especially when team’s share their learnings (on successes and failures)
Also hinted at this earlier, it is important IMO, for team’s to share their learnings at the end of each month, in any format, it can be a slide, a presentation team’s deliver, or a post on the company’s internal network, this creates a culture of ownership and collaboration, its important to emphasize sharing both successes and failures, we learn allot from both, and as long as we look at both as learnings, team’s and individuals will not be afraid to speak up and try new things, all critical for an innovative environment.
That’s all for this post, hope you’ve enjoyed and found it useful, if you did, please share it and subscribe to my newsletter to get the latest of my posts, videos and live streams!
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