Win The Business Game with Global OKR Best Practices
Google’s success with the use of OKRs is well documented. Netflix executed its strategy of breaking new ground by creating its original content in part by deploying OKRs. Other world-famous companies such as Tesla, BMW, and Microsoft use OKRs as an Agile goal-setting methodology. They are winning the Business Game with Global OKR Best Practises.
Some participants of the OKR Institute practitioner and Leader courses comment that they have read about famous companies’ successful implementation of OKRs, but have rarely seen or experienced it. Our general feedback to the comment above is that common mistakes are made when deploying OKRs that can be prevented or overcome by following OKR best practices.
As the OKR Institute, we have been fortunate to coach and implement OKRs across the globe within many industries. We have learned and applied several best practices that make OKRs sustainable and successful.
A common pitfall to OKRs is that some teams initially think it is a case of setting OKRs efficiently and that the rest will take care of itself.
OKRs are very well suited to new and inspirational working methods wherein people are more connected with each other and to their jobs. Most team members ask:
What methodologies are best used? Should we use agile methods, OKRs, and KPIs, or should we, for example, only use OKRs? The simple answer is, you can use it all, as they all complement each other. For example, an unhealthy KPI, such as a decline in sales can be turned into a healthy one through an OKR framework. On the other hand, a completed OKR can become a KPI as you as a team have proven that you can reach this far-reaching goal and know now exactly how to do it, now it can become ‘business as usual’.
What follows are our recommended OKR best practices. We have compiled these practices based on our global experience in coaching and implementing OKRs across multiple industries.
OKR Best Practises
- ‘Less is more’ – Have between three and five OKRs per team. ‘Measure what truly matters’. Focus is a critical success factor of goal attainment, and focus is diluted with every additional goal that is set. Also, it is prudent to have between two to five key results.
- 2. Be Outcome focused. Research has proven that those with Outcome focused goals are thirty percent more likely to attain them than those with output-focused goals, because:
Outcome-focused goals state the benefit, value that is added, and impact for stakeholders clearly whereas output-focused goals are purely activity based.
Outcome-focused goals are both more inspirational and aspirational.
Outcome-focused goals show you clearly where you are headed and state the aspirational end destination.
- 3. Transparency – When the alignment to other OKRs, all relevant key results, and tasks linked thereto are visible to all involved team members it helps them to iterate on their OKRs in an effective way and to understand the ‘bigger picture’.
- 4. Weekly check-ins. Weekly Check-ins allow you to have ‘your finger on the pulse’ of OKRs. Updating all the elements of an OKR, such as the progress on key results, empowers you to proactively resolve any challenges and capture all relevant learnings related to OKRs. Weekly Check-ins are the OKR best practice that requires discipline and consistency.
Companies and teams tend to become reactive over time in relation to OKRs when they do not regularly conduct check-ins resulting in a loss of momentum.
- 5. Skills capacity building is an essential element to the sustainability of OKRs. ‘Your strategy is only as good as your skills’. Some teams and companies fail to ask:
Do we have the necessary human resources, financial and skills capacity to achieve our OKRs? Failing to answer this question clearly and allocating the necessary resources to achieve an OKR or OKR is often highly detrimental to OKR achievement.
- 6. Create ‘OKR champions’. An OKR champion is, firstly, someone who firmly believes in the power of OKRs. It is also an individual who has had extensive training on OKRs and, for example, has gone through a suite of courses to build our practical knowledge. These OKR Champions will then ensure that, as far as possible, OKR best practices are followed according to the organization’s playbook
A number of OKR champions in your organization can help to drive the success of OKRs and overcome resistance to change from others over time.
- 7. Use goal-setting as a positive psychological tool. OKRs have several inherent motivating mechanisms to them. By effectively capitalizing on these mechanisms we help to uplift the engagement levels, motivation, and collaborative efforts of team members. Read the following article to learn more.
Effectively utilizing OKR best practices such as the above can culminate into an ‘OKR playbook for your organization that captures all the learnings gained from the OKR implementation cycles that you have collectively gone through. As this playbook originates from practical learnings and experience it is ‘worth its weight in gold’ and future implementations can only benefit from it.
Our OKR Practitioner course elaborates on all of the above best practices and helps you to apply them effectively in your organization. Join our OKR Practitioner course through the following link.