September '19 Discussion: For OKR Programs, Less is More

Simplicity is one of the key ingredients for an OKRs program. This was a key theme emphasized in our recent "Launching an OKRs Program with Purpose" webinar. OKRs are a really powerful tool and it's tempting to add checks and balances to the process you're introducing. You want your team to be successful but instead of creating a complex workflow, focus on teaching the value of OKRs. This knowledge will empower your teams to define OKRs that work for them - here are a few tips on how to start:

  • Begin with a clear strategic vision for the program so you have a set of defined outcomes. It's important to identify "why OKRs" as well as "why now" to focus on specific problems within your business that you'd like to solve. Use this vision and success metrics to determine if an aspect of your program is really adding value. Cut anything that is not.
  • Empower individuals with training on the value and goals of the program. The better your team understands how OKRs should work, the less you need to build out restrictive structure or formal rules. Your team members have a first-hand understanding of the challenges you want to solve so allow them the freedom and flexibility to be creative and innovative in their OKRs.
  • Keep the Pareto Principle in mind - roughly 20% of activities you undertake will provide 80% of the value you seek. Don’t be distracted by low-value "requirements" that will make your program more cumbersome and unattractive to the rest of your team. The OKR process is a journey and one which you won’t get right the first time. It's best to identify your "minimum viable process" and review and iterate after each cycle.
  • Ensure OKRs are integrated with or at least have a defined relationship to your Performance Management program. Few things can over complicate a program like divergent expectations from different departments within your organization.

Let us know what questions you have below. We'd love to hear about how you've created a simple, sustainable OKR program!



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