Single most important factor of successful OKRs adoption

I’d love to tell you that getting the right OKRs software, such as Gtmhub, is the most important thing to ensure successful adoption of OKRs – alas it is not so.

Based on hundreds of conversations we had with prospects, customers and businesses using OKRs – we have isolated one, very much offline, practice that sets apart those that succeed with Objectives and Key Results and those that abandon them: regular retrospective meeting.

What is a retrospective meeting?

 

Defining objectives and setting the key results is just a start. If it is not followed up, the whole exercise will be loss of time and energy.

To ensure that team is focused and driving those objectives, it is extremely important to have a regular follow up meeting where progress, priorities, obstacles and small victories are discussed.

These meetings should be regular and short. The main purpose of these meetings is to inform the team of the progress. As with any meeting, if it becomes free-form debate, it will quickly become a burden.

What are the benefits of retrospective meeting?

 

In our experience, the most important benefit of the OKRs retrospective meeting is the fact that it communicates to everyone that objectives are important.

If objectives are set and not followed up with, team will quickly lose focus and think of OKRs as just another meaningless distraction. Now, OKRs are a meaningless distraction :), but achieving objectives is not. OKRs as a process are simply an overhead or a price to be paid in order to ensure that team is working on the really important stuff and not losing itsĀ focus.

Aside from enforcing the focus, retrospective meeting is also a place where team can learn about problems being faced. This often leads to people volunteering to help.

Finally, to paraphrase Rag’n’BoneĀ Man, we are all just humans. No one wants to look bad on the retrospective meeting. Little competition, little peer pressure often goes a long way.

How to set up retrospective meeting?

 

There are several things to take into consideration when setting up the retrospective meeting:

  • Cadence or how often will you meet?
    The two most typical cadences are weekly and bi-weekly. If your company is moving really fast you may want to go with the weekly meetings, but bi-weekly is fine as well. One way to think of this is “how many chances I want to change something?” and then it’ll also depend on how long is your OKRs cycle. For example, if your OKRs cycle is a quarter, bi-weekly meetings will give you six opportunities to intervene.
  • When will you meet?
    Almost all companies do it on Friday. Obviously, this is less important, but as we all know – last meeting on Friday is not exactly the most energetic one.
  • Who will meet?
    In general, this should be a very tight meeting. Typically, it should be only the members of a team. If your company has multiple teams, than each team should have a separate meeting running in parallel. These meetings are very tactical, so no point in wasting everyone’s time.

How to run retrospective meeting?

 

Retrospective meeting is very similar in the format to the daily stand-up meeting in scrum. Everyone takes turn and reports on predefined points. We suggest following points:

  • Brief overview of what happened since last retrospective
  • Adjustments to confidence if necessary
  • Brief plan until the next retrospective

Summary

 

Having a regular retrospective meeting on your objectives is probably the most important thing if you wish to run a successful OKRs process.

Making sure these meetings are short and to the point is imperative. Having only necessary people on the meeting and predefined agenda goes a long way.

If you are just starting with OKRs, we have just released an e-book that outlines everything we’ve learned so far in practice: OKRs Startup Playbook