Hela and her OKR
What do iconic fictional villains have in common? They always lose in the end. In our Villains of OKR series we will analyze the mistakes in their strategy execution and learn from their failures through an OKRs lens.
“We were once the seat of absolute power in the cosmos. Our supremacy was unchallenged. Yet, Odin stopped at Nine Realms. Our destiny is to rule over all others. And I am here to restore that power.” – Hela Odinsdottir
Name: Hela Odinsdottir, Thor: Ragnarok
Credentials: Odin’s firstborn, formerly Odin’s Executioner and self-proclaimed Queen of Asgard
Personality: Callous, power-hungry, wrathful
Complete the bloody conquest she and Odin started—to bring all of the Nine Realms into Asgard’s power.
|Objective||To rule Asgard and create an Asgardian Empire||45%|
|Description||To rule, Hela must take Asgard and the Nine Realms by force. Although Hela was the heir to Asgard’s throne as Odin’s firstborn and the 2nd most powerful being in the universe, Asgardians refused to acknowledge her authority.|
|KR 1||Kill opposition||25%|
|KR 2||Rebuild an army||100%|
|KR 3||Access the Bifrost||0%|
|KR 4||Conquer Asgard||100%|
|KR 5||Conquer the Nine Realms||25%|
Hela achieved 45% progress. However, there were two things that prevented her from reaching her objective: She failed to consider the greatest risk to her achieving her goal. And similar to Hans Gruber, she operated with a waterfall mentality rather than agile (little “a”).
According to Matai et al. (2012), companies fail due to unexpected losses generated by three categories of causes:
- insufficient capital,
- model errors and
- risk ignorance.
McKinsey writes that agile organizations share five key traits:
- North Star embodied across the organization
- Network of empowered teams
- Rapid decision and learning cycles
- Dynamic people model that ignites passion
- Next-generation enabling technology
We’ll cover how this played out in our analysis.
Of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s villains, I really thought Hela had a chance to succeed. Hela was nearly invincible. Her superhuman abilities and powers were superior to practically any Asgardian, even Thor, at full power. The only known beings to surpass her in the universe were Odin (who died) and the fire giant Surtur.
North Star embodied across the organization
Did everyone know Hela’s North Star? Yes.
Was this North Star embodied by the Asgardians? No.
When organizational goals are not embodied across an organization, employees passively ignore them or actively obstruct progress. Either way, leaders and managers in the organization face resistance. Hela decided to handle this by eliminating those who resisted. Her style was to manage through fear. We would not recommend her leadership approach.
Network of empowered teams
Did Hela have a team? Yes.
Were they empowered? No.
Hela resurrected legions of dead Asgardian soldiers, turning them into her Beserkers. They served as her military and enforced her tyrannical rule. She also resurrected her dead pet, Fenris Wolf. And manipulated one Asgardian, Skurge, to be her executioner. So basically, only the living dead followed and supported her. Empowered teams? Yeah, no.
Rapid decision and learning cycles
Did we see rapid decision-making and learning cycles under Hela’s command? Sort of.
When Hela returned to Asgard, she revealed her identity, mentioned she was the sole heir to the throne and gave Asgard’s elite army a chance to be her allies. When she found resistance, she slaughtered them (save one person, Skurge). Kill opposition—partial check.
When Hela remembered that her former army was buried underneath the palace and could be resurrected, she went to the secret tomb where they were buried and used the Eternal Flame to resurrect them. Rebuild an army. Check.
When Hela realized the sword that controlled the Bifrost Bridge was missing (this kept her from conquering the Nine Realms), she hunted for it and threatened to punish the people of Asgard until it was surrendered.
So far, so good.
What fascinates me is that she didn’t think to seek out Odin’s sword. I would have thought she’d know Odin’s sword also had the power to control the Bifrost Bridge. She had an alternative route and didn’t pursue it.
In the end, she was destroyed by Surtur, the only being in the universe who could have defeated her. I would have thought she’d think to make sure he could never be revived. Nope. She didn’t. She was risk ignorant.
Hela: Whatever game you’re playing, it won’t work. You can’t defeat me.
Thor: No, I know… but he can. (points at the newly resurrected Surtur emerging from the underground, restored to his full power)
Are people our most important asset?
What Hela failed to see, which Thor eventually understood, was that Asgard is not a place; it’s a people.
Are people our most important asset? I’d say no. People aren’t just an asset.
“Does it make any sense to say, “Our people are our most important resource” when we are the people and the company is us?” he pressed. Upon reflection, I realized the deeper truth in what he was getting at. He was right — it doesn’t make sense to say that people are our most important asset. This well-intentioned phrase was in fact carrying a buried and profoundly disrespectful message, implying conventional capital asset thinking, treating the people in the organization as an asset to be computed along with any other number in a ROI calculation. It missed the point. Badly.” – John Shook, 2008
That said, people are important to our organizations. Employees seek purpose in their work. They want feedback. And opportunities to make an impact. How can they do that? We’d suggest through OKRs. Don’t know what OKRs are? All good, we’ve got you covered. Start here.
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