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  • Jonathan Bullock

Stop your OKRs from becoming a chore



If the start of quarter due date for setting your next OKRs is fast approaching and procrastination is rearing its ugly head, it's time to reconsider your approach.


This happens to many business leaders, as surprisingly everyone can all procrastinate when it comes to having to make tough prioritization calls or transparent commitments. So often it is a struggle to finalise OKRs before the start of the next quarter.


OKRs shouldn’t be that hard, and if you make some changes to transform your OKRs from a business-theory chore to a productive business tool things become easier. In the spirit of keeping things simple I would start with these two focus points:


Objectives should evolve


Don’t make the mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel every quarter. If your OKRs are simply cascaded down or the envisaged outcome of a single project, you're doing them wrong.


Instead, OKRs should be related to the longer-term strategy and outcomes of the business. For a project, think about the long-term impacts on the company and use those as your objectives.


Align the OKRs to your strategic thematic framework. That should be MECE, align with the organization and products. And of course be something everyone already knows. If you don’t have that, OKRs are doomed from the beginning.


Key results should be targeted


Your key results should be the targeted specific outcomes needed to achieve your objective. If your objective is related to your organisation's long-term strategy, your key results should increment each quarter.


This is where prioritization kicks in. Yes, its hard. But yes its critical. Rather than trying to rank things top-to-bottom (false precision) or make binary choices (do vs. not do), use a 3-5 point slide prioritisation scale (with definitions of what each means). P0-P1-P2-P3 framework used by product teams works well.


TAKEAWAY: If your OKRs feel like a chore every quarter, stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Once established, your OKRs will likely be an incremental evolution on the previous quarter. A prioritization scheme will help manage that evolution dynamic. When your OKRs are listed over time, they should show the evolution of your team, project or company.


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