Start planning your Q2 OKRs now

Bottom Line:

  1. Start planning your Q2 OKRs well ahead of the end of Q1 in order to ensure that you’re in a good place to kick off Q2.
  2. Communicate Communicate Communicate – then negotiate
  3. Don’t forget to celebrate your successes, failures, and lessons learnt from Q1

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The Balanced Scorecard, Strategy Maps, and OKRs

Bottom Line:

If you’re working with OKRs, you may find it useful to think about the Balanced Scorecard perspectives when setting OKRs. Which Balanced Scorecard perspectives, or categories are you supporting with your current OKRs? Do you need to rebalance your efforts? Who and which departments are supporting each Balanced Scorecard perspective, i.e. Financial, Customer, Internal Business Process, and Learning & Growth perspectives?

If you use Balanced Scorecards, or if you have used Strategy Maps to define your strategy and execution planning, OKRs may prove a useful way to take your operational excellence to the next level, and improve the way in which you align the entire organisation behind your strategy.

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Don’t use KPIs as your Objectives (and Fluffy is OK)

Bottom Line

One of the hardest things when you’re getting started with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is to set good OKRs. We’re all used to caring a lot about our financial health metrics, revenue, profits, shareholder value. But these metrics, while crucial to getting a sense of the health and trajectory of the business, are not very helpful in terms of helping us determine what we should do next.

Summary Recommendations

  • Move away from using KPIs as objectives, and instead ask, ‘what do we really want to achieve?’ Fluffy is OK.
  • Pick quantitative key results (health metrics, KPIs, etc), which are the best proxies to measure your progress.
  • For setting OKRs which are aligned with higher level OKRs, it is sometimes useful to look at the KRs of the higher level OKR as inspiration for your Objective.

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Common OKRs mistakes: Everyday work as OKRs

One thing we notice with a lot of organizations that just start out with OKRs is that many people just enter their everyday work as Objectives.

For example, a digital marketer may state an objective “Release January Newsletter“, a software developer may put “Fix bugs” or HR manager may state “Hire a sales director“.

While one could argue that these objectives are technically valid, the problem with them is that they are missing the point of OKRs. As a result, organization will not reap the benefit of OKRs and will probably abandon the methodology in few months as useless.

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OKRs in the age of Agile: Engineering perspective

Approximately once per week someone asks us how do OKRs fit with agile product teams and do they even fit at all.

There is a great article written by Felipe Castro that explores this particular problem and I cannot recommend it enough.

Whereas Felipe looks at the matter in a holistic way, in this post I am going to explore more practical aspects from the perspective of an engineering team.

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Setting OKRs for the Marketing Team

Bottom Line

Setting OKRs for marketing is made harder by the multitude or absence of meaningful metrics or KPIs. Marketers should set objectives informed by higher level company goals, and by focusing of the underlying performance drivers for marketing, instead of the metrics which are just indicators of performance.

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Setting OKRs for the sales team

Bottom Line:

When setting OKRs for the sales team, DON’T focus on the number. Instead, set objectives for the performance drivers, activity, process, method, aptitude, and attitude.
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Common OKR mistakes: Too many objectives

First in our series of blog posts dealing with common pitfalls of implementing OKRs in an organization is the one of setting too many objectives.

It is advised that no person or team has more than 3 objectives per OKR period (usually quarter). In practice, however – when just starting out – people tend to write a “wish list” of objectives.

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Who should own OKRs: person, team or both?

One of the first questions you may face when you decide to implement OKRs in your organization is who exactly should own OKRs: employee, team (under team, we also understand divisions and departments), or some mix of both.

In practice, companies do all three. In this post we are going to explore how to approach this decision.

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Anatomy of an OKR: How to set your OKRs

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge with OKRs.

You’ve seen the video on how Google sets OKRs, bought into the whole alignment-transparency-engagement promise and you are ready to see hyper growth in your business.

In more practical terms, however, you’ve been staring at the blank screen for the last 30 minutes wondering just how in the world you set your OKRs.

Nothing to worry about – we’ve all been there. In this post I explain what makes an OKR and how OKRs relate to KPIs and tasks. Being effective with OKRs requires a bit of an epiphany moment.

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