10 reasons why OKR is gaining traction as the preferred goal execution framework
OKR's (Objectives and Key Results) are proving to be the ‘go to’ framework for execution of strategy. Implementing OKR has transformed many organizations into ‘high performance’ mode. Well known companies like Google, Microsoft and Netflix use it and at the same time a wide range of companies from start-ups to global multinationals in diverse industries worldwide also use it.
Here are 10 reasons why OKR is proving to be the ‘best’ goal execution framework out there.
1. Can deliver high octane (10x) growth
When it comes to delivering high octane (10 x goals) growth, OKR's do a wonderful job of ensuring that everyone knows their part and how their tasks are aligned as well as shared. In such growth situations, it is not enough that everyone fires at ‘stretch’ level but is also vital that work takes place in a coordinated and aligned manner – otherwise there could be mismatches in delivery between groups that deliver well and those that do not. OKR ensures that growth occurs synchronously across teams that are taking up various outcome centric responsibilities.
2. Outcome based approach
The need of the hour is to track outcomes that are in line with the goals of the company, rather than track tasks or report numbers. People are comfortable reporting the past or reporting what they have done, but often hesitate to talk about outcomes and likelihood of achieving results. OKR makes you get used to a system that makes everyone focused on the most important outcomes and gets everyone to update progress towards achievement of those outcomes on a regular basis. The shift from task/ past reporting to outcome-based reporting on key objectives has a positively transformative behavior on individuals, teams and hence on the company.
3. The extreme focus on execution
No other framework gives so much emphasis on execution. Management frameworks like Balanced Scorecard or MBO tend to toggle between strategy determination and execution and hence have a lower emphasis on effective execution. The rest of the execution frameworks focus on, project management or task management and miss the bigger picture on organization wide execution. If there a gap between vision/ mission/ strategy and actual execution, that companies want to fix, then OKR is the best one to try out first.
4. Multiple Key Results to track important Objectives
OKR’s brilliance lies in a simple concept. Objectives should be measured and tracked by more than one way since they are often multi-dimensional. Hence one Objective whose outcome is measured by multiple Key Results brings about a very high level of clarity on what the organization wants and what the individual must achieve. Clarity leads to focus and with repeated check ins or progress updates, execution happens. Another OKR ‘special’ is the focus on a few objectives that matter. By spending time on ensuring that everyone knows what matters and focusing on executing those outcomes, much more is achieved at the organization level.
5. Caters to differing work cultures
OKR's can work in high growth organizations as well as in steady growth environments too. The concept of stretch OKR's are optional. In high growth organizations, stretch goals and supporting budgets enable rapid growth, while in steady growth organizations, one can focus on committed goals that ensure stability and sustainable growth. OKR as a framework is flexible to handle diverse situations by adjusting the OKR check-in culture to your organization.
6. Collaborative, motivating, supportive and safe approach
OKR encourages collaboration and presents a supportive environment towards goal achievements. The portions related to reporting progress is structured and easy, allowing teams and supervisors to work out methods to support goal achievement. Discussions, meetings and reviews are focused on helping people achieve their goals in a ‘safe’ space rather focus on non-achievement. By bringing in cross functional teams to objective focused meetings, collaboration to achieve common goals becomes the norm.
7. Handles changing situations better
OKR cycles are typically shorter. Quarter is the most common OKR setting cycle and if required one can take goals that are shorter within a period. The advantage of shorter cycles is that important goals that are cross team and cross functional can be changed without too much difficulty. External and Internal shocks (e.g., like COVID 19) require organizations to change goals rapidly and OKR handles such changing situations very well.
8. Transparent and data driven
OKR is highly measurement and data driven. Key results need to be measured and reported either as numeric figures or as deliverables. This results in real discussions that are transparent and result oriented. OKR encourages sharing of OKR updates transparently across teams so that there is empathy and collaboration in achieving common goals.
9. Easy to understand and use
Most frameworks are difficult to use because measurements have varying units of measure. One must understand the unit of measure of that goal, as well as the context before one can determine levels of success and subsequent actions. In OKR, all measurements are brought down to a simple percentage, allowing instant visual recognition of progress, irrespective of function or area – a simple but powerful concept in enabling focus and adoption.
10. Strong ecosystem
Being an open management framework, a variety of books, templates, tools, software, videos and articles are available online. The OKR body of knowledge is continuously improving and evolving. Professional OKR coaches, software providers and knowledgeable executives in companies are the driving force behind the growth of this ecosystem. Learning, adoption and avoiding pitfalls are far easier with the availability of this strong ecosystem. As the number of success stories of OKR grow, this ecosystem will keep growing, enabling high success rates in transforming organizations into ‘high performance’ mode using OKR.
This article is written by the founder of Stragiliti OKR, George Vettath. He has consulted on OKR with a number of organizations worldwide and is the primary architect of the Stragiliti OKR software. He has over 32 years of experience in IT and Management consulting and has held senior positions in many technology companies. Since 2003 he runs his own firm Kallos Solutions Pvt. Ltd. whose products and services are delivered under the Stragiliti brand. (www.Stragiliti.net), of which OKR is one of the many products.