27 Aug 2020

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“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.” – John Doerr

Cathy is an engineer in a renowned software firm, she enjoys her work and is very successful in her pursuits. She oftentimes gets appreciated by her manager, peers, colleagues across the organization and by clients. However, in moments of reflection she wonders, how does my work contribute to the overall objectives of the team and the organization? What projects must I focus on and why? What are my team members and others in the organization working on?

OKRs help organizations engage people by bringing clarity on such questions that Cathy just reflected. The OKR framework holds enormous benefits and has been adapted by many successful organizations in past several years, it is a proven model! The good thing is that the OKR framework is not just something that organizations can adapt but can also be followed by any individuals for accomplishing their personal goals. The design of the framework is simple yet needs careful thinking and can benefit anyone who is willing to write down goals and endure until it’s truly accomplished. In this blog, I share a brief information of the OKR framework and links to reading materials for anyone who is willing to deep dive into the concept, I hope the model inspires you!

So, what are OKRs?

OKRs (acronym for Objectives and Key Results) is a goal setting framework used to set and track objectives. It is a tool that helps to figure out what you want to achieve and how to do it.

Objective

It is the “what” you want to accomplish. It is a clearly defined goal.

Key Results

It is the “how” you want to accomplish your objective. They are clearly set milestones.

As a hygiene, it is recommended to stick to a maximum of 5 objectives with 4 key results. More can lead to wavering focus, extended teams and diffusion of efforts.

Key OKR Facets

Alignment – OKRs drive results by aligning collective efforts towards measurable objectives. The objectives of the organization are cascaded to departments, teams and to every individual, thereby helps align efforts of the entire organization towards a common goal.

Transparency – OKRs help achieve mindshare by enabling transparency of objectives across the organization. OKRs are public, everyone in the organization can see what everyone is working on, from the CEO to an intern.

Focus – OKRs by design enable focus on the most critical and vital goal and in turn help achieve scale and excellence.

Engagement – OKRs accelerate employee engagement through goal clarity and accountability.

The OKR Cycle

A typical OKR cycle starts with OKR Definition – OKR Check-Ins – OKR Showcase – and ends with OKR Cycle Retrospect.

In the OKR definition stage, the objectives and key results are defined and set for the quarter. Followed by OKR check-in meetings organized once every month throughout the quarter to track progress and shortfalls, reset and move forward. OKR showcase ceremonies are conducted at the end of the quarter to evaluate if the objectives were achieved or not achieved and are scored. It is recommended that every cycle ends with an OKR cycle retrospect to assess “what went well” and “what could have been better,” learn and make improvements for the upcoming quarter to eventually achieve optimization.

Genesis of OKRs

The development of OKRs is generally attributed to Andy Grove, the “Father of OKRs,” who introduced the approach to Intel during his tenure there and documented this in his 1983 book High Output Management. Grove later taught the OKR framework to John Doerr who helped to bring the program to Silicon Valley and introduced the framework to Google. Over the past several years, many high performing companies have adopted them including Google, Netflix, and inspiring nonprofits like Code for America.

From my personal experience, I can share that OKRs give a sense of direction towards what you want to achieve. I learned about OKRs in my current organization while working with my team to design and launch the program. I experienced how OKRs changed the way we looked at our work, how we prioritized and focused on the most important goal. OKRs helped me and my team stand steadfast to what we wanted to accomplish and how we were going to do it.

Here are couple of reading material’s where you can find more information.

“The HARDER you work for something, the GREATER you’ll feel when you achieve it”

I hope the information shared in the blog was useful, thanks for reading!

Credits

Thanks to all the online OKR reading materials and my friends and colleagues with whom I learnt about OKRs.

 

–By Mercy Winnie [Lead-Human Resource at Odessa Inc]

Authors bio:

Mercy is a HR professional with 7 years of experience in various spectrum of HR that includes HR
Business Partnering, Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Campus Placement and Talent Acquisition. I hold a profound experience working in leadership roles, collaborating and launching global talent programs with our global team.

In my current role, I closely work with the leadership team to design talent programs, its effective implementation and sustainability. For me, HR is a passion I get to live out every single day and I’m thrilled to be doing so at Odessa Inc.

Outside of Odessa, I am a member of the NHRD Bangalore team where I currently lead the blogs and articles program along with volunteering for diverse programs of the group.

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