If I had a Tesla for every time I landed at a company or consulted with a company and heard, “We are too busy” or “We can never accomplish X”, I could start a Tesla dealership. I usually look at the work in flight and ask how we know Y matters to the company or customer?”

Almost every time, success, is defined as, Activity complete vs. Outcome achieved. Many teams can’t easily describe the meaningful outcome for customers or companies from their activity. They have gone into an “order taking” mentality.

When you optimize people, processes, and technology, amazing things happen. In one SaaS company approaching the magical $500 million revenue number, everyone thought that how they were operating was the best they could do given the constraints. Eight months later, long-term team members admitted they were blown away by the results of implementing OKRs, and further, at the annual CAB meetings the largest customers said they hadn’t seen that level of meaningful innovation in 3 years.

OKRs aren’t the magic bullet for poorly designed Organizational structure or process, but they will positively impact all scenarios. Further, it will shine a light on other areas for improvement.

The first step is to reduce the divisive conversations on tactics and get everyone focused on the business problems to solve and outcomes to be achieved. OKRs are a tremendous critical thinking framework.

Where to start?

Ideally, you want OKR adoption to start at the top of the company and cascade in an aligned way through the organization. However, sometimes it’s easier to start at a team, business unit, or group level to demonstrate results. It’s critical to start at the top of the company to have proper Objectives and Key Results. I was once working with a Fortune 50 company that cascaded Key Results that weren’t specific, not time-bound, and very unrealistic, which only caused tremendous churn across a 50,000+ person organization.

The key is to get a commitment, consistency, and regular review of your OKRs. This should not be a one-off activity but a constant tool used to drive the business forward.

Written by : kgavranovic

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