3 key lessons I have learned about okrs

Endless Lessons to be learned

There are several lessons that I have learned and continue to learn about OKRs. In this writing, the focus will be on the three key and most impactful lessons that I have learned about Objectives and key results. A strong purpose is a foundation for excellence in OKR deployment. That and other learnings will be further explored.

Both the concepts of personal and business performance have always fascinated me. I have fully realized over the years that there is a whole ecosystem to consider when creating a performance strategy and no single element of the ecosystem causes sustainable performance by itself.

It is the synergistic application of all the elements of performance that causes sustainable and impressive results. To learn more about the effective deployment of OKRs and all the elements of successful and sustainable implementation, visit our website:

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When, for example contemplating the rewards that you should align with excellent performance it is advisable to consider that as one piece of a large puzzle. It is an important piece, yet it remains one piece that needs to fit others to ensure the picture is as perfect as possible

3 Key Lessons about OKRs

 Key Lesson 1:  Start the right way.

Hypothetically speaking you could employ the world’s best OKR coach and still fail when OKRS are deployed within a toxic culture. You could also have a perfect score in setting the right OKRs, but if there is no true inspiration and strong purpose as its foundation your company’s performance is unlikely to be sustainable.

Generally speaking, people are resistant to change. When you ask for change you are asking people to move outside of the boundary of their comfort zone. You are influencing them to change some of their habits, which is very hard, as we are creatures of habit. 

A strong purpose as a very good and powerful reason for people to take the serious effort of change can be a solid foundation for introducing an OKR framework successfully.

When people are not very clear on why new performance frameworks are being introduced it will be very hard for them to take confident action. 

The first step when it comes to stakeholder engagement should be introducing the purpose of the new objectives and key results and to do it in an inspirational way. The purpose or purposes should be co-created by the team in order to get buy-in.

Key Lesson 2. Co-create and collaborate

It is simply human to feel pressured and as a countermeasure to tell people what to do without entertaining debates in order to get things done faster.

The general issue is that telling people what to do can be counterproductive to a large degree – 

* People feel that they have no voice when they simply get told what to do.

* There is no opportunity for creativity when people simply receives orders

* People avoid taking ownership of and responsibility for others’ ideas that were simply handed down to them.

When creativity was fostered and team members’ input was valued they feel that they had positively contributed towards a collective and positive outcome.

See Gallups’ view on how performance management should evolve:


Key lesson 3. Align behavior and thinking to Objectives and Key results.

“If you command wisely, you’ll be obeyed cheerfully.”

Thomas Fuller

Co-creation, creativity, and collaboration are only alive when people feel safe, valued, and respected and they are treated fairly. People tend not to collaborate in a sustainable way when they are forced to. 

Inspiring your team with a strong sense of purpose,  exciting Vision and a sense of belonging through sharing values culminates in sustainable collaboration.

OKRs are future-directed. If the majority of your thoughts are directed at the past and you have a tendency to cling to past behaviors even if they were unproductive, successful implementation of OKRs will be highly unlikely if not impossible.

All tasks should be aligned to the key results, key results, in turn, must be aligned to the objectives, and last but not least, the objectives must be aligned to the ultimate Vision of the company.

Malalignment causes poor performance, generally speaking, and in addition, creates confusion amongst team members.

Critical questions to ask to ensure alignment as much as possible should be:

1.  What tasks performed consistently will result in our team actualizing the key results?

2. If we materialize our co-created key results would it be a fact that we have attained our Objective?

3. In achieving our objective/s will it ensure positive leaps toward our ultimate Vision?

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute