6 tips to prevent failure in OKR implementation (Part 1)

Posted by Viktoriya Marinova
on June 10, 2019

If you’ve made the decision to implement OKRs in your organization, this article is for you. Maybe OKRs are new to you or perhaps you’ve tried implementing the methodology in your organization before with lackluster results. Either way, you want your team to succeed. Here are some tips to help your team adopt OKRs successfully.

Preparation

By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail!

To win people over for a new OKR initiative, show them the value to change the way they previously set goals, persuade them to develop new habits related to OKRs, and inspire them to embrace the transformation so it sticks.

Implementing OKRs in an organization takes a lot of influencing, coaching, training, a pinch of convincing, and expectation setting. To get it going, you should prepare, plan, analyse, revise, polish and prepare some more!

Here’s how:

  • Involve the early change adopters in your company and let them play part in the preparation process. You’ll be amazed by the different perspectives and ideas other people will bring on the table
  • Devise a well-crafted plan that will fill the gaps and answer all the questions for everyone who joins the OKR journey. People will be confused at first, they won’t know what to do so they will need concrete guidelines and best practices to follow. Those should be very well communicated (you’ll learn more about the communication topic in one of the following sections. )
  • Revise and polish all your processes you came up with in this preparation period it as you go along the way, if needed.
  • Analyse how you’ve previously prepared for an organizational change and find areas for improvement so that you’re armed with the right data and tools to implement OKRs

Culture

Culture plays a tremendous role in your company. Your organization’s culture might not be something you’ve installed but it’s there, it’s present every day and it affects everything that happens.

Nicki Cole defines culture as “the values, beliefs, systems of language and communication, and practices that people share in common and that can be used to define them as a collective.” (Source: Defining Culture and Why It Matters to Sociologists. Nicki Cole – https://www.thoughtco.com/culture-definition-4135409)

Performance reviews, closing deals, growing and retaining customers, or managing complex changes are all marked by the specific culture of your company. And it can either enable the success of your business or hinder its growth.

Any changes, restructurings and innovations can be extremely difficult to implement, if people in the organisation resist all new initiatives because their mentality is hard-wired that way. The best part is that it’s never too late to start fostering a more positive culture. Here’s how to do it:

  • Revive the true spirit of your company by restating the mission, vision and values of your organization. Help your organization recall their purpose and instil a sense of belonging and identity
  • Develop a more transparent culture by trusting employees. Share with them important decisions
  • Switch the perspective away from competition and emphasise on collaboration. Break down the silos within teams and departments by initiating cross-functional activities and projects. No man is an island.

Communication

C-level people and stakeholders should discuss and agree upon why the company should be doing this and the benefits for the organization. This should be communicated to the employees too. Communicate with the rest of the company clearly and effectively what’s going to happen and why.

Here’s how:

  • Have a newsletter? Share what OKR framework is and that you’re launching this initiative. Provide more details.
  • Have a library at work? Get some books on OKRs and add them to the collection
  • Use Slack? Create a channel where people can ask questions and exchange ideas. Share some interesting articles from time to time
  • Have regular All-hands or Town-halls? Dedicate some 15 minutes for OKRs
  • Believe in life-long learning? Invite an OKR specialist to coach your company

You’re not there yet. There’ll be a continuation of the article so stay tuned! Just a small teaser: there’ll be a bonus tip in the end 😊