• Jonathan Bullock

The dos and don’ts of OKRs



Organisations need to simplify and clarify their priorities, become aligned towards achieving those priorities and avoid distractions or continuously 'urgent' priorities that arise.


In my experience, the best business tool to achieve this is OKRs.


What are OKRs?

OKRs – objectives and key results – are specific goals, with measurable steps to achieve them. This is a business tool which has been popularised and adopted by most of the leading tech companies.


Do:

  • Differentiate between commitment OKRs and aspirational OKRs. Allow some flexibility in the completion of aspirational OKRs.

  • Include OKRs in performance management, but don’t use them as the only measure of success.

  • Make objectives cross-functional. They should span teams, with each team having key results reflective of their contribution.

  • Allow bottom-up involvement in OKR development.

  • Maximise visibility of the progress towards the objectives.

  • Ensure every OKR has an owner.

  • Run a plan-do-review process for managing and adapting OKRs through a quarter

  • Map OKRs into thematic areas that align to your broader long-term strategy


Don’t:

  • Set unclear OKRs. If the path to completion isn’t fully defined or understood, discard the OKR.

  • Give up easily. You won’t get your OKRs right the first time. Expect a messy process that takes a couple of cycles to refine.

  • Hesitate. There is no right time to start using OKRs. If you aren’t already using them, you should be.

  • Trial OKRs in one team. OKRs are intended to be cross-functional; don’t think trialling the OKRs in a single team will give you any meaningful benefit.

  • Use OKRs as an excuse to no longer be flexible.


TAKEAWAY: OKRs are now a widely adopted business tool used by organisations of every size. By following my recommendations, your OKRs will deliver more for your organisation sooner.


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