The 4 S’s of OKR preparation

Thomas Dusart is the founder of DOKR – a “pragmatic OKR consulting” company, operating mainly in Belgium, France and Luxembourg. DOKR guides organizations in the implementation of the OKR methodology to improve alignment and boost employee engagement. In this Voices of OKR piece Thomas shares the 4 stages of preparation for implementing OKRs.

As an OKR consultant, I always start preparing for OKR implementation by a 4 S examination of our client’s organization.

Structure

The preparation for OKRs always begins with a thorough examination of the company organizational chart to determine (if existing) the corporate, strategic, functional, and tactical level(s).

  • Corporate level(s) concerns the top level of the company and its business lines
  • Strategic level concerns the Business Units of a company
  • Functional level concerns the support departments ( Marketing, HR, Finance, IT)
  • Tactical level concerns teams in all these levels

It is essential that the structure is clearly formalized to further enable cross-functional collaboration and smooth vertical alignments.

Strategy

Then the mission, vision, values, and long-term (or ultimate) goals of the organization should be inspected or created. These are the essential pillars which OKRs will align strategically as they connect strategy and execution.

If the strategy exists and is well-defined, you should look into the quality and consistency of these constitutive elements (the mission, vision, values, and long-term goals).

Of course, strategy also depends on structure. The strategy of a whole business unit can be quite different from the strategy of a single business line or a single product. For example, the management team of a business unit may be engaged in growing a whole portfolio of business lines or products and allocating resource between them. The strategy of a single business unit may be a lot more focused on the competitive dynamics affecting it.

If the strategy doesn’t exist, you should formalize it at all the levels where necessary. No strategy, no OKRs!

Systems

At this stage, you should review the existing methods and tools used for measuring the Objectives, Key Results and Tasks progress.

If the organization has already started implementing the OKR methodology, you should look at who, how and where they create, align, and measure the Objectives and Key Results.

The theoretical basis the methodology is taught in-house should also be analyzed.

S taff

OKRs represent a significant change in the organization. Therefore, a strong guiding team should drive this change. What’s more, without an executive buy-in and support, the mission of the OKR consultant is doomed to fail.

Conclusion

The OKR methodology helps organizations make the link between top-level strategy and teams’ execution.

Therefore, starting OKR implementation without having a stable organizational structure, a clear strategy, a well-known method, tools, and an internal powerful OKR coalition will unfortunately get you nowhere!

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