Top 5 tips for successful OKR implementation

Tim Meinhardt is the CEO of Atruity – a trusted OKR consultancy located in the Washington DC area. In this Voices of OKR feature Tim provides expert tips on successful OKRs deployment.  

There are countless books, videos and workshops that define the “what” of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). These common materials and tools explain what OKRs are, why they are important and why they are beneficial for organizations. However, they are often missing the most critical piece of information that an organization needs to benefit from OKRs – how to successfully implement this powerful goal setting methodology. How exactly an OKR program is executed and applied within an organization is where the secret sauce lies. Simply put – it is the key to succeeding with OKRs.

An improper OKR Program implementation leads to a “flavor of the month” conversation and very little buy-in within your organization. Adopting OKRs into your company is not a trend and when it is done incorrectly, you put the program in jeopardy of failure. Most 1st time OKR attempts fail to succeed. So, it’s important that you take the time to get the execution right the first time. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, especially when it comes to OKRs.

OKRs fail for a myriad of reasons, including not getting buy-in, not cascading OKRs properly, not choosing the right individual to run your OKR program and rushing the OKR deployment process. However, even if you get the implementation correct, if the OKRs process is mismanaged, it will ultimately ‘go up in smoke’. Proper management of the OKR Program is critical. The executive running the OKR Program within your organization needs to make sure that they have the time, resources, and responsibility to manage the OKR program correctly.

I have seen numerous organizations triumph in their OKR venture, and I know that any company can successfully adopt and manage an OKR program with the right tools, expertise, and insight. I have seen time and time again that a properly implemented, visible, and well managed program allows for the greatest chance for buy-in from the organization.

Introducing and embedding OKRs within your organization can be challenging indeed. So, here are my top 5 tips to make sure that your OKR implementation is not only successful, but also provides the results and long-term benefits that you desire:

1. Make sure that your organization has a mission statement and long-term objectives. Ensure that they are outlined, visible and communicated to your entire organization. It is a proven fact that the success of any implementation greatly increases if you have these pieces. These north stars set the direction for your OKRs.

2. Take your time implementing OKRs. Rushing the process only fosters confusion and leads to disastrous results.

3. Have one person designated as the champion of the program and ensure they have the time, skills and responsibility to successfully manage the program. Also, do not rush this decision as the designated OKR Champion will manage the program in long run.

4. Feedback, recognition and communication are extremely important. They help to keep everyone motivated and engaged as they process the new OKR Program.

5. Do not be afraid to ask for help. This is a simple yet powerful framework that can feel overwhelming at first.

I know that implementing OKRs within your organization can seem intimidating. However, you should be confident that your organization’s investment in an Objectives and Key Result management program will be successful and bring you the desired outcomes.

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