Are Your Companies’ OKRs aligned with Clear and Relevant Strategies?
Are Your Companies’ OKRs aligned with Clear and Relevant Strategies? – Is a meaningful question to ask, because, in the absence of both clarities of Vision and strategy/s, our OKRs may well be drafted in isolation, malaligned, and ultimately inconsequential.
Drafting outcome-focused and powerful OKRs may be a significant first step in ultimately being successful with the utilization of OKRs in your organization, yet the activity of drafting OKRs by itself is no assurance of success. Other Best practices to ensure both the success and Sustainability of OKRs include but are not limited to:
- Aligning OKRs to clear and relevant strategies and ultimately the Vision of the company
- Aligning OKRs to an operationalized purpose (Purpose can be a powerful driver in achieving far-reaching goals)
- Assessing Capacity – What human resource capacity and financial capacity do we have, or need to build to achieve our OKRs?
- Aligning OKRs to the Culture of your company (Use an embedded value system as a filter for decision-making during the deployment of OKRs)
- Skills capacity building – Your strategy (and OKRs) are only as good as your skills
- Effective OKR roll-out (creating stakeholder buy-in)
- Clarity of communication and transparency – Clear communication and trust form the glue that holds all elements of OKR performance together.
For the purposes of this writing, we will focus on the best practice of Aligning OKRS to clear and relevant strategies and, ultimately the vision of the company.
What is Strategy?
Strategy or strategies consists of points of differentiation from our competitors, that are of high impact in our industry and markets, that we can preserve. To be clearer on what strategy is we can elaborate on what strategy is not:
- Strategy or strategies are not goals or objectives
- Strategy is not operational effectiveness – Operational effectiveness is an essential capacity yet is not a strategy. Operational effectiveness, generally speaking, will not create a sustainable competitive advantage as all or some of your competitors can strive for it.
- Strategy is not a Vision or mission, nor is it a set of values yet strategies can be aligned and/or integrated with the aforementioned. A Vision can be, however, distilled into strategy or strategies.
How can we create clarity of Strategy/Strategies?
As the mindset of those creating strategies often differs from those that have to execute them, a convergence of mindsets is required to formulate excellent strategies and then execute them.
Viking Kings, Yarls and Earls (leaders), samurai warlords, and Spartan Kings could often be found on the battlefield with their men, not only observing but fighting fiercely, in part, as a way to ensure their pre-molded war strategies would be executed.
You need a ‘strategy for your strategy’ meaning a framework for strategy formulation and execution that ensures that consistent and iterative action is taken to both bring strategy to life and to be successful at it. An essential part of this framework is that leaders are not separate from strategy execution, but instead form an integral part of it.
When leaders formulate strategies but separate themselves from the execution thereof they:
- Generally label questions related to their strategies posed by those who have to execute, as resistance to change- These may have only been clarification questions.
- Cannot serve as an example to their people in relation to achieving strategic advantages.
- May themselves become a barrier to execution as they may have no practical experience of, nor understanding of what their people are going through.
- Risk being perceived as only practicing a ‘command-control’ orientation and not inspiring their people.
Strategies can be made clearer by ensuring that leaders take part in the execution thereof and by involving team members in strategy creation and formulation.
How can we involve our team members more in Strategy Creation and Formulation?
We can invite our team members to be part of strategy creation and formulation by asking posing poignant questions to them such as :
If you were to ‘put the competitions’ cap on’ how would you go about beating us?
What do you see as our top priorities in terms of gaining clear competitive advantages, right now?
What are we not seeing, or considering? (What do you think are our blindspots and weaknesses?)
Are our strengths really still our strengths? (Is everything we are good at and focused on still really important and relevant?)
Strategies and OKRs
To ensure that our OKRs are aligned with both the Vision of the company and to strategy:
- We can distill our Vision into strategy.
- Then create Strategic themes or pillars derived from our strategy
- Turn those strategic themes or pillars into Objectives
Learn how to Align OKRs to well-formulated, relevant, and clear strategies by joining our OKR Leadership course here: https://okrinstitute.org/courses/okr-leadership-course/