OKR – Principles of a Successful Rollout
Deploying OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) isn’t as complex as many other new management systems. Nonetheless, it requires a shift in organizational behavior and can be challenging. Without careful deployment, it can fail quickly. This article outlines some of the key elements for a successful deployment.
The first and most crucial element of OKR deployment is executive buy-in. Without it, the initiative lacks the momentum and authority to permeate and genuinely transform the company culture toward goal alignment. OKRs aren’t an HR function, and while they can be part of performance management, they’re a strategy management tool that requires full executive participation to be truly effective.
Not Everyone Needs to Use OKRs
Since OKRs are a strategy management tool, not all teams and associates in a company need to use them. Tactical teams can and should use tools that suit their specific needs. For example, call center teams don’t necessarily need to use OKRs fully. It’s sufficient for the team leader to use them to improve team performance. Similarly, in software companies, developers could focus on using JIRA to track their development cadence and productivity. However, the engineering team leadership could use OKRs to drive improvements and alignment among the developers.
Diligent Review Cadence
Once the Objectives and Key Results are identified, it’s not enough to just write them down and celebrate with a launch party. The key to a successful OKR rollout is regular reviews: weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. These periodic check-ins ensure that the team stays connected, focused, and aligned. Writing good OKRs is only 50% of the work; reviews are the other 50%. They offer opportunities to eliminate blockers, coach, make course corrections, and learn continuously.
“God Can Give His Opinion, Everyone Else Bring Data”
The OKRs process is highly data-driven. It’s essential to monitor and track every aspect of the business using data. This means instilling and insisting on a data tracking discipline within the organization. Regardless of size, allocating some resources to data collection and tracking is necessary for OKRs to succeed and for the team to thrive.
While this list of suggestions isn’t exhaustive, it covers 80-90% of all issues in an OKR rollout. It’s worth noting that an OKR implementation might fail despite these elements, but it will surely fail if they’re not considered.