Do you know OKR’s ? Hmmm by any chance is it a new trendy cocktail? Sorry to say but no, it is a management methodology to track performance ;-)
Today this methodology is used by big giants like Linkedin, Netflix, Twitter, Intel, Oracle, Slack, Accenture, Salesforce, GoPro and Amazon. The goal of this methodology is to transform the vision and mission of a company into achievable objectives.
This allows to offer a clear vision of the tasks linked with the objectives to all employees. Each employee has therewith the big picture of the impact of each of their own tasks in the team scope but also in the global company objective. This not only allows prioritization but even more to give meaning to each daily routine task.
Quick catch-up: What are OKR’s?
OKR is a shortcut for “Objectives and Key Results”. The methodology firstly relies on the company’s vision and mission. Indeed, the aim is to align the company objectives, with the team objectives and individual objectives of each employee with measurable and quantifiable results.
The objectives will give the direction to the entire organization. According to Arnaud Meunier, the objectives need to be “coherent, stable and exhaustive”.
Coherent means that the objectives need to be in lign with the mission of not only the company but each team as well as each position.
Regarding the stability, each industry sector needs to define their own length. For example the objectives of a startup can be set each trimester or semester because the market changes very quickly. In contrast for an enterprise it would be more interesting to set objectives for a year.
In terms of exhaustivity, it is important to keep in mind that each project or task that does not fulfil the objectives, shouldn’t be done.
This helps to understand the importance of carefully defining the objectives of the company, each team as well as each employee, to stay aligned.
Once the objectives are defined, the next step is to establish the key results. The key results will give the indication on how to reach the fixed objectives. These need to be measurable and quantifiable in order to then decide on the different tasks and to-dos.
Henrik-Jan van der Pol states that the OKR methodology allows to align « the efforts of a team to the same goal so that everyone works in the same direction. “
Henrik-Jan van der Pol’s 4 OKR rules
- simple and precise
- should be defined annually and trimestraly
- aim to be challenging
- results should be numbers
Why is this methodology trendy today?
The OKR methodology has been developed in the 70’s by Andry Grove at Intel. It was then John Doerr who introduced this methodology to Google at the end of the 90’s after working at Intel. We start having feedback on this methodology and results at Google, which is part of their DNA and success.
The OKR’s allow employees at Google to be more focused on their priorities and reduce the unfruitful time spent on projects and tasks that won’t see the light. Moreover, an employee explains that the methodology has helped reinforcing the company culture based on ambition, transparency and concentration.
Nowadays we speak more and more about the attractive work environment of startups, the horizontal hierarchies to bridge the gap and disrupt the work code and the classical hierarchy. Not only is this something the X or Y generation is seeking for, but it is part of the desire to see the impact of our work and how it reflects in the global organization. The OKR methodology offers this perspective.
The methodology requires an important implication of each employee and manager in terms of reflexion. For this reason this methodology is first of all a top-down approach, because everything depends on the vision and mission of the company that requires to be clearly communicated and transparent by the management.
The objectives and key results must then be defined by the management and the employees before breaking down the action plan and to-do’s to reach the set key results. Until now we are only looking at the strategic aspect which is important but the big challenge is also to put everything in motion and measuring the daily progress and achievements.
The OKR in action
Antoine de Saint Exupéry once said “Any goal without a plan is just a wish”. This highlights the importance of knowing how to establish an action plan with the to-do’s that reach the fixed key results. It is therefore crucial that every team member knows who is working on what, their responsibilities, the due dates, etc… Even if the objective and key result is individual, tasks often require the collaboration of a teammate responsible for one of the subtasks for example.
Collaboration and task management applications may play an important part in this final and crucial process in the execution phase of the OKR methodology. The to-dos with the people responsible for the different steps, tasks and subtasks need to be listed.
Moreover, teams need to be able to communicate and collaborate on the tasks and subtasks. This is of course possible with tools like Azendoo, which allow not only to have a vision on the different steps and tasks in a Kanban type board, but also to collaborate in context with the colleagues to move forward and follow up on the progression.