OKR Health Check
A brief 10 question evaluation to help determine whether your company is getting the most out of their OKRs.
Areas of caution
These top items are extremely critical to the long-term success of your company's use of OKRs. Based on the answers you provided, your organization is doing some things right with OKRs, but they also have some areas that require your immediate attention. Please read each section carefully to determine what areas of our OKR implementation that require immediate attention.
Several of the questions focused on the basics of OKRs. The foundational things that if you get wrong with OKRs, there is little chance OKRs will help your organization in any material way. • The first example is not following a defined OKR cycle. Without an understanding of the OKR cycle, your organization is likely to see inconsistent practices related to OKRs, and there is a high risk of OKRs being forgotten. We call this "set it and forget it", and it happens all too often with OKRs. • Understanding the importance of vertical and horizontal alignment is another very fundamental element of the OKR framework. Without a relationship beign established between OKRs at different levels of the organization, you miss the opportunity to achieve higher levels of alignment. • And lastly, creating too many OKRs or aligning OKRs to work instead of business outcomes, means that OKRs become "just one more thing" the organization is responsible to delivery, but there is litter material benefit gained by doing them. • Please consider taking a closer look at the OKR training and workshops we offer at Scaled OKRs.
Strategy vs OKRs
A few of the questions focused on strategy, annual planning, and work prioritization. When companies simply “add” OKRs to their process, and they don’t understand how OKRs relate to strategy and the annual planning cycle, they end up with OKRs that drive outputs, instead of outcomes. If you want to get your organization focused on outcomes, then OKRs need to be aligned to and supported by the organization’s strategy. • The first question most people ask is, what is an example of a good objective statement and how to do write good KRs. What they should be asking is, how to I get OKRs integrated into my organizations decision making process around work, such that our OKRs help us focus on the right work. If projects and initiatives still rule the day, then OKRs are not helping your company the way they could. • At Scaled OKRs, we have decoupled our strategy workshops from our OKR workshops, and we do that on purpose. We will not serve our clients well if we are willing to help them walk through an OKR creation workshop and have not strategic context. We ultimately want strategic agility for our clients, even more than we want them to have great OKRs. Without a strategy, strategic agility is impossible. • Having teams in your organization doing OKRs is great. However, if you have your teams doing OKRs and they do not take time align both vertically and horizontally, how can you ensure their OKRs are taking the organization in the same direction. If you are having trouble getting OKR alignment or you’re not sure how to take advantage of “shared OKRs”, please give us a call! OKR alignment is our superpower! • Please take a minute to review our Strategic Planning service offering. If it’s been a while since you have done a meaningful and comprehensive strategy workshop with your leadership team, consider inviting Scaled OKRs to facilitate your next strategic planning session!
Establishing Focus and Alignment
A few of the questions focused creating OKRs top-down and bottoms-up and being mindful not to create OKRs that are siloed, and not aligned to other teams. Once an organization is established, they tend to structure the organization to have functional departments and leaders that are responsible for teams that provide a specific function. However, the value the customer receives is always culmination of the collective efforts that cut across all those functional departments and teams. • Most leadership teams in an organization are made up of functional leaders. When these same leadership teams decide to do OKRs, they frequently make the dreaded mistake of each creating their own set of OKRs for their departments. It seems intuitive to do it that way. However, if you have a leadership team of 10 people and each of them create 3 – 5 OKRs, you can see how easy it would be to end up with 30-50 functional and separate (siloed) goals. And that is just the first set of OKRs from the leadership team. • The solution is shared OKRs. That same leadership team of 10 functional leaders needs to be able to work together to develop their 3 to 5 OKRs in total – across the leadership team. THAT is what drives deeper alignment and focus for the organization. It’s not about just doing OKRs for the sake of doing OKRs, they are intentionally designed to be collaborative and drive deeper focus and alignment. • Please look at our coaching and consulting service offerings. We also offer remote coaching services as well.
Integrating OKRs with Existing Practices
We included a couple questions related to integrating OKRs with existing practices. For start-up companies this is only slightly less critical, but for mature organizations that have defined processes, workflows, meetings, etc., it is critical that OKRs are integrated carefully into those existing processes, or OKRs should help to change them to become more valuable and purpose driven. The key message with the topic of integrating OKRs, is that if OKRs don’t change the way your organization works, your likely not going to find much benefit from using the OKR framework. • In larger organizations, most people have a booked calendar. If the adoption of OKRs now requires an additional set of meetings, your organization is at risk of getting people to engage because they simply don’t have time. From a consulting perspective, we would say that the organization isn’t creating space for OKRs to be successful. • Most legacy processes have become so riddled with anti-patterns, that the processes themselves are frequently the root cause of what dooms organizations to become stuck and unable to self-correct. For example, annual planning in many organizations is the primary bottleneck to value creation and value delivery, but it is generally not seen as something that can be or needs to be changed. The real problems in the organization “appear” to be further downstream, but those problems can often be traced back to the ineffective, lengthy, and arduous process of traditional annual planning. • Please consider our strategic planning service that can help your organization get out of the rut of annual planning and into a cadence of strategic agility!
We try not to overplay the notion of “best practices” with OKRs, because we want organizations to thrive on what works for them. However, when it comes to best practices, or guardrails as we like to call them, they are important, and they could be considered universal laws for OKRs. For that reason, we asked a few questions related to the general category of best practices. • If managers, leads, or other supervisory roles are creating OKRs on behalf of their teams, your OKR implementation is not just a little offtrack – it is wildly off the mark. OKRs are inherently a team sport and if we don’t encourage collaboration during the creation and authorship of OKRs, then people will not feel inspired by the OKRs. Always keep in mind that when it comes to OKRs, authorship drives ownership! • If your OKRs look at tasks with due dates, because you’re creating OKRs in support of existing projects and initiatives, your OKRs will be lack luster and uninspiring. OKRs need to help us decide what work to do, not when to get the work done that someone else is telling us to do. It’s a wasteful use of OKRs to let work drive OKRs instead of OKRs driving the work. • When there is no effort made to establish vertical and horizontal alignment, your teams will be adrift with siloed OKRs that could be pulling your organization in opposite directions. Alignment and focus across teams is only achieved when teams collaborate together on the creation of their OKRs. • Consider having someone or a small team in your organization to be responsible for supporting the organization to be successful with OKRs. The OKR Champion role is perfect for this, and the Certified OKR Coach course offered by Scaled OKRs is a superior opportunity to learn what it takes to be a rockstar OKR champion!
Please contact us today to discuss the results of your OKR Health Check!
For informational purposes only. There is NO WARRANTY, expressed or implied, for the accuracy of this information or its applicability to your specific and unique situation. Please contact us directly to learn more.