What if we fire you all today?

Posted by Ivan Osmak
on May 15, 2018

Today I’ve talked with two different companies, which coincidently have the same problem. Namely, they’ve recently adopted OKRs and in each of these companies, there is a team being extremely dismissive of OKRs.

In the first company, it is the marketing team. In the second company, it is the product management team. Both of these teams have the same reason for rejecting OKRs.

We already use projects

Namely, both of the teams argue that they have a pipeline of projects that they need to deliver and that OKRs are just an overhead. Along these lines, the only OKRs they can come up with is to deliver these projects.

The OKR champions in both of these companies were somewhat puzzled and wanted to chat.

To resolve the problem, I suggested asking these teams following questions:

  1. What would happen if we fire you all today? (Read how Larry Page once decided to fire all project managers at Google)
  2. What would happen if we outsource your functions?
  3. What would happen if your tasks are handled ad-hoc by whoever has time for it?

What if we fire you all?

Those are trick questions.

The intent and design of these questions are for people to build a business case for their own existence (or to the very least, the existence of their positions :). The true OKRs, KPIs, and metrics will practically write themselves.

Obviously, the idea of this question is not to scare people into obedience or actually fire them – but to change the mindset from “I work” to “I deliver value”.

OKRs are always about output over activity.