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Episode 16

On what it's really like to drive an OKR deployment at scale

Guest

Pedro Signorelli

Founder of Pragmatic Management Consulting

Episode Notes

In this special podcast series—Voices of OKRs on Dreams with Deadlines—Jenny Herald interviews Pedro Signorelli. Pedro is the founder of Pragmatic Management Consulting. Previously, he was Head of Management at Nextel Brazil where he implemented OKRs for more than 1700 employees. In this episode, he shares his story and experience with us. We get to hear what Nextel Brazil’s OKR lifecycle looked like. We’ll spend some time talking about how their pilot failed and how they were able to turn things around. Pedro goes over the importance of executive sponsorship, how that sponsorship played out in practice, their OKR calendar and check-in process, and how they had tied compensation to OKRs at that time but why he wouldn’t recommend that in practice today.

The Full Transcript:

Pedro Signorelli (00:00:00): I would call this pilot a failure, because...

Jenny Herald (00:0:04): Really?

Pedro Signorelli (00:0:04): Yeah, because if in three months in a quarter cycle, you should have the first 15 days to define your OKRs and then you should start working on them. We took too months, just to define.

Jenny Herald (00:00:20): Hi, and welcome to Dreams with Deadlines, a podcast where you'll hear real stories of trials and victories in business. I'm Jenny Herald, Chief Product Officer of Gtmhub. Gtmhub is the world's most powerful platform for objectives and key results, our OKRs. In concept, OKRs are easy to understand, but challenging to execute, until now. Check us out at Gtmhub.com to learn more.

Jenny Herald (00:00:53): Pedro is the founder of Pragmatic Management Consulting. Previously, he was the head of management at Nextel Brazil, where he implemented OKRs for more than 1700 employees. In this episode, he shares his story and experience with us, we get to hear what Nextel Brazil's OKR lifecycle look like, we'll spend some time talking about how their pilot failed, and how they were able to turn things around. Pedro goes over the importance of executive sponsorship. How that sponsorship played out in practice, their OKR calendar and check in process, and how they had tied compensation to OKRs at that time, but why he wouldn't recommend that in practice today. Let's jump in.

Jenny Herald (00:01:36): Well, Pedro, I've actually been really looking forward to this podcast recording or episode for a long time. So thank you for being on the show.

Pedro Signorelli (00:1:44): Thank you for invitation, hope the content we bring here help many people and organizations.

Jenny Herald (00:1:51): So let's go ahead and start with like, who are you? I start there, like who are we talking to today? So Pedro, if you can introduce yourself, and then talk about your journey, because you went from being a telecom engineer to now a founder for when I translated the name of your company, because I can't pronounce it, forgive me, it's Pragmatic Management Consulting. So hopefully, I got that right.

Pedro Signorelli (00:02:11): I'm 41 years old. So I founded my company when I was 40 years old. I'm a family guy, I’m married to a physician, dermatologist, and I have two boys. My objective in life is to balance family and work. And I love sports. I love soccer, basketball, squash, carting, Formula One. I love numbers, it's easy for me to deal with them. So then I decided to become an engineer. So I studied electrical engineer 20 years ago. I started working in basically two companies for almost 15 years of my professional history with infrastructure projects.

Pedro Signorelli (00:03:00): So my background is on execution is in companies project oriented, so execution oriented, I have been working with Project Management in the waterfall way for like 20 years, but somewhat in the middle of the journey sometimes I started to feel like joy less or cheer less with some situations, because the companies were very well structured, every time I could improve things, improve processes, and then it happened that I changed job. And suddenly, I've seen myself in a company that was not that structure, was not project oriented, and I was hired because of all this capabilities I built in the last 15 years, and all the things that I learned and I put into practice, I was not comfortable, right? I need to adapt myself. So it took me six months to adapt myself and put the brain in different mode and in different format. The company started an intense journey of transformation. And I see at that time, myself, needing to adapt myself in an adapting company.

Pedro Signorelli (00:04:18): And then in the last year, I decided to open my own company consultancy or training company to help other companies to change, to transform themselves, like I did to myself and I did at Nextel. So, I think the most things that we are going to talk here is about me, let's make this conversation about me, not about the companies. I'm not representing them. It's my view. It's my opinion of the situation, right?

Jenny Herald (00:04:47): Absolutely. Quite a journey. So yeah, let's start to unpack because when we had first met, it was one of the most fascinating conversations I had had to date, particularly because I felt like I had such an inside view from someone who is in the trenches, so to speak, with the business as they were going through that transformation. So I think a lot of people who are in corporate environments, in agile environments, in the middle of a digital transformation or any kind of transformation, we'll probably learn a lot from, like your point of view and what you've experienced.

Jenny Herald (00:05:25): So let's talk about Nextel and your experience at Nextel. Previous time we spoke, you said that the organization had gone through an amazing amount of leadership changes, which included in your time three different presidents, six vice president changes, and reporting up to eight different leaders, I think you mentioned. And it wasn't until the third president that had decided to implement OKRs. So I wanted to kind of unpack from the beginning and here that story. What prompted the president to want to adopt OKRs at a time?

Pedro Signorelli (00:05:58): He heard of OKRs when he was studying in the US, and then he came back to Brazil and took over the CO chair. He saw the situation that he needs to transform a company in such a short time, he knew that—this is my guess, again, right—that he we need to engage everybody in this transformation, he couldn't do this alone, it was pretty clear that OKRs could really fit in this situation. Because of the short cycles, we need to make things fast, improve fast, because of the whole process of engagement of the employees in this process and also the ambition because of the size of the transformation that needs to be held by him, by the company.

Jenny Herald (00:06:51): So at the time when he came back from Silicon Valley, and he said, “All right, I have a huge responsibility. I need to make sure everyone is with me in this change.” Where were you in the organization at the time?

Pedro Signorelli (00:07:06): I was working at the project management office. Since 2015, I've been working with the management system of the company for the other presidents. By 2015, we started to structure the KPIs with the projects, which was my main capability. And we build a management model for the first and second presidents. And then he asked me to implement OKRs because I was already with this agenda with the KPIs and the project.

Jenny Herald (00:07:39): What was the culture of Nextel at that time around the 2015, his era when OKRs were introduced? What was kind of the underlying culture of the organization?

Pedro Signorelli (00:07:48): Like many of the companies who are 20 years old, like Nextel was, it was mainly command and control, right? How to make it different? If everybody is used to work in a command and control environment and OKRs really doesn't work this way. So it was an interesting situation and interesting culture to try to implement it.

Jenny Herald (00:08:18): Did the organization transform, would you say culturally as a result of the OKR implementation? Or did it kind of maintain its commanding control undertone with a new framework in place?

Pedro Signorelli (00:08:33): We took almost... Yeah, let's say two years in this journey. I would say we changed a lot. We started many things with the top down in three cycles…Yeah, three to four cycles, we were working already, we felt very good bottom up process, where the executives and obviously not all the teams, right? The teams mature in different velocities. The executives were very in this agenda. With bottom up, they started to bring the agenda, the most important stuffs instead of just waiting for the CEO to say what needed to be done. And also in some teams, we also saw some changes, they providing, they suggesting solutions, they engaging themselves in the process. And I think in like one year, we got a very good exercise top down plus bottom up going on.

Jenny Herald (00:09:40): That's pretty quick.

Pedro Signorelli (00:09:41): Yeah.

Jenny Herald (00:09:42): You had mentioned previously that in, at least an article that I had read that you had written called “The Three Ways to Build Your Business OKR Muscles.” And then the first point that you made was that it's important to introduce OKRs gradually and then leave the room for refinement. Can you share how that played out at Nextel? Like the timeline of events that kind of transpired? Pedro Signorelli (00:10:08): We didn't start slowly and leave much room for refinement, because the pilot we ran in the last quarter of 2017 started with 350 employees. I wouldn't call this...

Jenny Herald (00:10:26): Gradual.

Pedro Signorelli (00:10:26): Gradual, yeah.

Jenny Herald (00:10:27): It's like, “Hello everyone, 350 of you. Welcome.”

Pedro Signorelli (00:10:35): It was like that. So my recommendations in this article I wrote is from what I've learned, not only the pilot, but also in my experience operating the management system. We were just giving some quick background. We have a nice structured KPIs and project system running. So when we introduced the OKRs, we did it with a very, very short period of time with pressure of time, because we needed everybody engaged quickly, because the company didn't have much time, right.

Pedro Signorelli (00:11:18): So we decided to start this pilot defining OKRs from the CEO until the analyst, the previous management system, which we stopped in the management level, the last management level, yeah. So we tried a different approach. So we could put the individual contributors in the system, and we needed to see how it would go right. And it was tough, it was pretty tough. I would call this pilot failure, because...

Jenny Herald (00:11:46): Really?

Pedro Signorelli (00:11:47): Yeah, because if in three months in a quarter cycle, you should have the first 15 days to define your OKRs and then you should start working on them, we took two months just to define. So it were the beginning of December, and we were still defining OKRs. By the end of December, we went back with the executives, because the decision was to roll out to 1200 employees in January 2018. And then this was the whole out. The company at that time had 3000 employees, and we implemented to 1200. Some of them were sales guys that really operative jobs. And we didn't include them in this process. Starting January 2018, 1200 employees have OKRs, and then we start running to the cycles.

Jenny Herald (00:12:49): Why would you have considered the 350 rollout pilot a failure? Was it because it just took too long before it was the two months? Or are there other aspects of it that you were like, and the rest of leadership was like, “What happened?”

Pedro Signorelli (00:13:04): The executives were all in this agenda. At first, they didn't see the OKRs as a priority. So it looked like an aside agenda. So we have strong conflicts, the availability of the executives. And also there were many people to train and define OKRs. So we start them individually. It was a very tough call. So we could bring everybody on board, on the same boat at once in January 18 to organize this agenda and have availability and management attention. So I mentioned a failure because we didn't do like the books recommend, right. But the point is that we learned a lot in the pilot. And then we didn't repeat the same mistakes in the next quarter. So this is also what OKR is about, right? You learn it from one cycle to another.

Jenny Herald (00:14:05): So let's talk about the turning of the ship around, right. We're going from a 350-person rollout initially this pilot and it's not going by the book, everyone somehow, at least at the more senior level, if not the CEO is like, I still believe he obviously was the clear sponsor, it sounds like for this. And then January of 2018, it's like, “All right, 1200 people...” not quite half of the 3000. But you're getting pretty close. It's a lot of people in the organization. And you're doing it at an individual level, which if you read a lot of books, it's like start with teams, because you want that cooperation and, you know, cross team collaboration and whatnot or cross matrix type things happening. Let's discuss a little bit how you spearheaded that change management and what you needed to do to turn this around to be successful? I think the first thing it sounds like is you needed leadership buy-in, you needed to be able to secure that. Why was that important? How did you do it?

Pedro Signorelli (00:15:12): Yeah. And when we would talk about leadership engagement, where we are not talking only about the CEO, we are talking also about the next level, the executive directors, vice presidents, whatever, because execution happens down in the structure, right? And who owns the team is each one of the executives. So now I remember John Doerr saying “Ideas are easy, execution is everything.”

Jenny Herald (00:15:44): Execution is everything.

Pedro Signorelli (00:15:46): Yeah. So who owns the teams need to be on board, so we needed the executives to happen? And we saw this not like, I wouldn't say it has not happened, because it happened, I have meetings with the guys, but it was not the priority, right? So with all these things that happen in the pilot, I brought this to the Executive Committee, which was formed with the CEO and all his direct reports. And I shared with them what happened, my hypothesis, and we discussed, the presence, the authority of the CEO was a critical success factor, to bring the other executives to the agenda.

Pedro Signorelli (00:16:29): And then we decided as a group at collaborating, so everybody had space to say what happened, why it didn't happen well, or what happened well, because there were good things also, and what could be the problems. And so they contributed to the next step, right? This was very important to really change the posture of the whole company, because if the CEO and the first level are on this agenda, then it's very likely to happen much better than we did in the beginning of the pilot.

Jenny Herald (00:17:11): Let's talk about then, starting with the leadership. So the CEO is all in, now we've got his direct reports, his staff, all the execs, who own these teams like you mentioned, they're in what did it practically look like? Because what you had discussed with me earlier was the OKR calendar. And I was like, “Oh, this is good.” What did that calendar of events contain?

Pedro Signorelli (00:17:34): We try to make as clear as possible, the whole quarter events. So I published by May, or in the workplace, every step that needed to take. So we had a successful quarter. Before the quarter started, I drafted the plan, I approved with the CEO, got the inputs of the executive committee, and then publish for everybody if broad communication we met.

Pedro Signorelli (00:18:18): So in these dates, we need to define the OPR. So by this date, 100% of the OKRs needed to be defined. And then the space, the period where the check ins needed to happen when we have executive oversight of the OKRs. In monthly meetings, the leaders should have weekly meetings with their teams working in the OKRs, and then by the end of the quarter when we want to close the OKRs and start the new quarter. So people always have visibility three months of work in advance. So it was pretty clear for them to organize themselves with the teams so we could have a good journey in that quarter.

Jenny Herald (00:18:50): So kind of unpacking that even more, you all had executive workshops, which I thought was really very cool, because whenever I talk about this, people are so surprised that this even is a thing. But I think it's super important. And evidently, it works because you did it in practice.

Pedro Signorelli (00:19:07): Yeah.

Jenny Herald (00:19:08): Can you discuss a little bit about what happened in these executive meetings? Who isn't involved? And like, how was it constructed so that you know, folks who are thinking about this from an executive leadership, like what's expected of me, when I'm approaching this process, maybe they can take some notes from your experience book,

Pedro Signorelli (00:19:29): The workshops were really a change in the way that we use OKRs. We start the OKRs individually, right, because eventually we can discuss this further. We attach it to compensation, which is not recommended, but we did. Because this was the smoothest change we could make in other processes that are structures but we didn't want to change a lot of things at the same time. Not knowing how the OKRs was playing the company.

Pedro Signorelli (00:20:00): So we start them individually. And then we felt the need to be in one room discussing things together, not individually thinking, “Oh, this should be my goal, I should do this.” And I need someone to do that. Now let's talk about it, we didn't start our OKR cycles like this, the first time we did this for the run the third cycle. So we took two cycles to understand that going through a workshop and fine in discussing the priorities would be more helpful than the previous process. And this is one thing very important to have in mind that OKR is much less about methodology, how you write good results, but it's about processes is about changing processes, existing changing processes, and also mindset, right. So for the third cycle, we started with a workshop. And then for the fourth cycle, we start doing two workshops. We really like the workshops that oh, let's make two instead of just one.

Jenny Herald (00:21:05): What do those workshops contain like this by the time that you've evolved it to the second window in the fourth cycle? Pedro Signorelli (00:21:12): Yeah, the first workshop, we put like 30 to 40 executives, directors, really the top management in a room, like one day or six hours to discuss the priorities.

Jenny Herald (00:21:28): Wow.

Pedro Signorelli (00:21:29): Yeah. And then we got better for the time, we went prepared the executives, “Oh, I think we should do this, we should do that.”“ And then we got to the discussions. And that's where the bottom up was working quite well, the executives and the other directors, they brought important things to discuss. And then by the end of the first workshop, we should have the priorities defined and the leader for each one of these priorities, which turned out to be an OKR, they happened to me that I had each quarter I had one of the top priorities OKRs, which was to implement OKR in the company to make it work?

Jenny Herald (00:22:16): I think that's awesome to have an OKR for OKRs. Fantastic.

Pedro Signorelli (00:22:19): Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jenny Herald (00:22:21): Yeah. So then first workshops, good. We've got, you know, the top 40 people in the whole business, in a room talking for six hours, here are the priorities, they walk away from this, here are the top, let's say, 10, that we're going to focus on everyone owned something, or at least there's an owner defined for each of these. What was workshop number two?

Pedro Signorelli (00:22:40): Yeah, by the end of the first workshop, when you have the priorities defined, we also have a leader defined for this priority—and could be someone which was not in the room. But this was more of an exception. But the leader of this priority of these are… we started calling corporate objectives, he had 15 days, two weeks to present in the second workshop, what the OKR would look like, and what would be the team he needed to deliver to work on these OKR this priority.

Pedro Signorelli (00:23:23): So, he had two weeks to align the priority to go for resources, discuss with some executives, “No, we should do this because of this is a priority and I need your guy, I need him or her in my team.” And then in the second workshop we discussed then more in details what should be each of the OKRs, we balanced the resources. Oh, there's this one guy, we need him in three work OKRs. Oh, it won't work, we need to clone him, so we need another one. So the second workshop was mainly to give a broad communication and validation of the priorities and resources.

Jenny Herald (00:24:03): Okay, so executive workshop one and two corporate priorities and corporate objectives that came out of that set. And then what had to happen then was everyone else needed to be attached or aligned to this? Can you talk through how the rest of everyone because whenever you told me this, I was like, “How long did you do that? That quick, huh? How many people? How did you do that?” I think a lot of people who are listening or be like someone tell me what... can you share a bit about what happened?

Pedro Signorelli (00:24:34): Yeah, once we define the OKRs, we give broad communication to everybody. So they are aligned in this top 10 priorities of the company. And then we started the OKR Week. It was an event that came up in the company where I leave 100% of 120, 200% of my agenda to define OKRs with the rest of the company, given that priority, that top 10 priorities, how can you help them, one, two, whatever, how you or your team can help? And if not, or what else can you do? So then we define different OKRs for their teams and supporting the top priorities or solving any problem in the department or with another department. So in another, like 10 days, we define the rest of the OKRs in the company. So like in 25 days, we used to have all the OKRs defined in the company.

Jenny Herald (00:25:39): Whereas in the first pilot, you mentioned, it was like two months. It's quite a dramatic shift.

Pedro Signorelli (00:25:45): Yeah. Jenny Herald (00:25:46): So everyone is locked in. We're good. We've got corporate objectives. People have figured out their resourcing how they're going to support the top corporate objectives. And now it's about execution in the check in.

Pedro Signorelli (00:26:00): Yes.

Jenny Herald (00:26:02): I thought that the way that you all followed up with this was really interesting. So can you talk through the monthly meeting?

Pedro Signorelli (00:26:08): Yeah, we have like, two governances. So the first one, the monthly meeting, each direct report of the CEO had a monthly meeting with him, where we went through the OKRs that were not of these top 10 priorities, was like the OKRs of each area of each department. In the agenda of this monthly meeting, the first topic was, how are your OKRs? Let's take a look at least once a month in a formal way, giving visibility to the CEO of the OKRs of each department: IT, digital, engineering, legal, budgetary audit, sales, everybody. So this run monthly and it's something that we took advantage of the previous governance that I have implemented.

Pedro Signorelli (00:26:59): Then we have the second, that's a path of the governance for this top 10 priorities, we have a slightly different space for them. The CEO knew the agenda was clear for him and for the other executives. When the weekly meetings of these top 10 priorities would happen, so he could show up whenever he wanted, in a weekly basis, rolling out the 10 top priorities being presented in the executive committee, it was like, boring, let's say, we didn't need that.

Pedro Signorelli (00:27:35): So we started to try giving more autonomy to the teams. And we started to manage by exception. So we felt like we were more mature also. So we start by managing by traffic lights. So you're going to the executive committee by exception, if you are with red, and you are the one who gives the red or gives the green, you and your team. Obviously, we had an executive oversight. For each of the temporary audits, we define a sponsor, which happens to be an executive director. So the red or the green had some consistency. Also, not just by the leader judgments that could lead to internal conflict and things like that. So we kind of build a system to counterbalance these internal conflicts. It happen very well. So we change it from weekly meetings, where if you needed to be there to management by exception for this top 10 priorities,

Jenny Herald (00:28:45): What was kind of foundationally, you had mentioned, it was important to have standardization around that grading, right? Because if it's a gut feeling, you're like, “Yeah, “I'm a green this week,” you know, that wouldn't be good. Like, what's the basis for that? So that everyone's idea of what red, yellow, green was? Can you share a little bit about how you all thought through that definition that everyone could kind of agree to?

Pedro Signorelli (00:29:10): Yeah, the traffic light was mainly defined by the team, they discuss, we used to work with to like, and that is called GOTS, The gravity of the situation, how urgent it is, and the trend. So we use this tool and we standardize it for every OKR. So my team, I was head of the management department, I had some PMOs and OKR champions with me by this time. When I was starting the OKR cycles, it was just me but then my team grew up, we standardize it. And I had always someone from my team there to help ensure that we were not going sideways with what we defined. And also we had this sponsor, this senior executive that also had his thoughts on the traffic light, so we balance different fields.

Jenny Herald (00:30:03): What did the presentations themselves contain? Because it seems like you move from a “everyone's bored out of their mind.” And I actually get asked this question a lot. It's like, “Jenny, what happens in these reviews of the OKRs?” Because people can read, what exactly are you...? So likely you have something, whether it's an Excel spreadsheet, or an email, where you've documented in a table where you're at, people can read this stuff. What's the value in meeting in person? And then I think the answer is there is a lot of value, we need to talk through that, can you share?

Jenny Herald (00:30:37): And the other question is, what are you talking about when you do meet, so that it's really efficient, and actually meaningful for everyone involved, because an entire room of executives is expensive. And to get that kind of attention for however long is expensive, so it should be valuable for the business. And also, these people need to go work and actually achieve their OKRs. So we don't want to take too much of their time, because they have business as usual. Plus the core corporate objectives are trying to manage as well as a lot of things to ask for. So can you kind of unpack—demystify this, if you will?

Pedro Signorelli (00:31:12): Because the meeting would be expensive, we need to be very objective, right? In some ways, we didn't leave much space for people to go through the details and things that people really didn't need, especially the executive. So from one side, it's very good to give the opportunity for people to share what went well, and be congratulated he or she, or the team, that we achieved an ambitious OKR. So we could celebrate with everybody what went well, and also share good practice.

Pedro Signorelli (00:31:58): And also where an OKR eventually had poor performance, it's important to have space, “This didn't go well, because A, B, and C,” and to have a brief discussion, so everybody could learn and not repeat those mistakes in case you should happen with them. So the visibility and the space for people to talk about the problems helps to not overlook the important stuff. Each OKR leader had like 10 to 15 minutes, not to give this went well, I achieve 6%, 30% because of A, this didn't go well because of B, we learned C and things like that, so very straightforward conversations.

Jenny Herald (00:32:46): And this happened on a monthly basis with the exhibits?

Pedro Signorelli (00:32:50): No, no, no, these sessions were only for the closure of the OKR.

Jenny Herald (00:32:54): Okay, so this was the closing?

Pedro Signorelli (00:32:55): Yeah.

Jenny Herald (00:32:56): Okay. And then, was there like a similar thing that happened in the executive review that happened every month? Because you have a monthly session with them, right, to make sure it was okay?

Pedro Signorelli (00:33:10): Yeah, the monthly sessions, I would say will take longer, we'll take one hour to discuss in the OKRs. And then they go into more details discussing the business and not only the metrics, let's say, “No, you should this, you should do that.” So like a session to help achieve the OKRs. So besides taking a look, understanding what needs to happen in the future, so we can achieve the deal cares

Jenny Herald (00:33:37): And that one hour was… that's not an hour per OKR. That sounds insane. That was our full up.

Pedro Signorelli (00:33:43): Yeah.

Jenny Herald (00:33:44): Okay. And then that was across all 10 of the corporate objectives that were specified by the senior leaders in the beginning?

Pedro Signorelli (00:33:51): No, these monthly meeting is for the, we called area OKR. So the CEO had, for instance, a monthly meeting with the sales executive director. So this, it was like, I don't know, two hours or two and a half hours discussing stuff, one hour, 40 minutes, 45 minutes discussing the OKRs.

Jenny Herald (00:34:15): Wow, that was a lot of attention to OKRs.

Pedro Signorelli (00:34:17): Yeah. It was just the priorities.

Jenny Herald (00:34:21): Absolutely.

Pedro Signorelli (00:34:23): So we need the management attention, the OKRs. And it happens happen on other companies, not my clients, but I was talking to people who was implementing and then, “How are your OKRs going?” “Oh, they have been put aside, we have some stuff to do right now.” “Well, this stuff that you were doing is your priority, right, so what were your OKRs ...right?” So people didn't understand that the OKRs are really the priority.

Jenny Herald (00:34:53): So I think we've uncovered then kind of the life cycle, if you will of a cycle at Nextel when you all going on. Let's transition now to the companion, the conversations feedback and recognition. So I think you've made it super clear how important the conversations were in making sure OKRs were successful, because in the OKR calendar are a lot of touch points for conversations to happen around OKR. But the feedback part because again, I'm going to harken back to something that you had written, I thought it was really interesting you wrote about, one of the first things you encourage your clients to do is to introduce what you call lower case conversation. They're having these regular, lightweight goal related discussions, and that these conversations are supposed to be somewhat of a response to an annual performance review, because those are annual. Yeah, that's a lot of time to kind of just let someone go without providing any feedback or have conversations with them. And can you talk through why you recommend these lowercase conversations? How did you come up with a name firstly? I was like, interesting, lowercase, what does that mean? Why do you recommend them? And what should they contain?

Pedro Signorelli (00:36:08): Since we are talking about quarter cycle, it really doesn't make sense to have an annual conversation about one thing that happened in the first cycle. And even in the second cycle, or in the third cycle, because the conversation would go through code stuff, right? So it's much better to talk when the things are clear, in the mind of the leader of the employee. These lowercase it's not to be something big, formal, or things like that. It's more of a conversation almost like in a daily basis, or a weekly basis, when you touch point how you were going with your OKRs, the team, but the conversation should contain things that helps the people or the team to deliver to reach the objectives.

Pedro Signorelli (00:37:06): Since the goal is for the quarter, you can't just talk about it once a quarter, or even once a month, it's a very poor process. So you need to be in touch consistently and constantly, the leader, with the team, so you make sure the OKRs and especially the ambitious OKRs could be effective, right? These conversations should be very straightforward. What is missing? What do we need to achieve the OKRs? The conversation should talk about roadblocks that can prevent us from reaching the OKRs. So it's more like a feed forward.

Pedro Signorelli (00:37:52): So by the end of the quarter, then you could have the feedback, then you look in the mirror, and oh, did this didn't go well, we need to change this, we made a mistake here. This worked well, let's try to repeat this. And then when you close your cycle, then you look behind in the mirror and then try not to make better in the next the next cycle, you really run the PDCA, right? You plan, do, you check and then you act. So which cycle you do this, not more annually. And then the feed forward in the middle of the quarter, so always aiming to be more effective in your daily work.

Jenny Herald (00:38:31): The last question here, and then we'll roll into quickfire questions you had touched on this. And this is like such a topic in OKRs, about making OKRs included as part of the performance evaluation. I know at Nextel, you had mentioned that it was woven into part of the employee evaluation for the individual, and it worked. It seemed to work. What is your current thinking on this particular topic when you're asked, should you include OKRs as you're evaluating an employee?

Pedro Signorelli (00:39:04): I don't recommend all the clients I have 100% of the implementation we did and attach it to the conversations and not directly tied to the OKRs. At Nextel, we did it, we tied. It was really a tough call because we have strong pressure because of the time, we need everybody in the same boat and it happened... So why they don't recommend to tie compensation to OKR? because of the ambition. And what happens when you tight the compensations with OKR is that the discussion of the target, people bring start to sandbagging, right the conversation, it kills the ambition.

Pedro Signorelli (00:39:49): So what we did and it seemed to work in at Nextel because we build a, let's say, a system to counterbalance the sandbagging, with exposure, with visibility, with a lot of management attention on this. So I think that this, if we could name one thing that made this possible to work at Nextel, it was the management attention on the targets. By the second year, we were running the OKRs. I think we got a lot of maturity on the process. The close attention that the management spend to the process helped on this. And we always, we practically did everything in teams together, discussing challenging ourselves to be better, because of the situation we had.

Pedro Signorelli (00:40:45): So, it will happen if you tied, we have the sandbagging the conversation, and then you need to build a system to counterbalance this. So it went well there. But I don't recommend to other companies, at least to start, then you could in the middle of the process change, and see how your company, your culture, your processes, they adapt to—they understand the OKRs how it's going to work better in the intercompany.

Jenny Herald (00:41:14): Thanks for sharing your experience there. We're going to end with hopefully some fun quickfire questions if you're good with that?

Pedro Signorelli (00:41:21): Yeah.

Jenny Herald (00:41:22): What do you appreciate most about your team?

Pedro Signorelli (00:41:25): They were always open to the challenge. And when I interviewed some of them, to my team, I told them very clear, I don't know what's going to be of us six months ahead. Are you willing to go with me shoulder by shoulder, let's say and build this, right? And I have 100% of positive answer, “Yes, I want to go with you,” as an intern and some more leader people that I brought to my team. And so they were always open attitude, they were open to the challenge.

Jenny Herald (00:42:05): I love that, I love it when people come to work and they have that open, like the “we can do this” attitude. I think that's really awesome. Great. What's your greatest dream, and it's associated deadline?

Pedro Signorelli (00: 42:20): I want to really help thousands of companies to embrace this that I lived in the last years, and we want to make it really, really big, starting yesterday. So that's what I'm working on.

Jenny Herald (00:42:39): And then last question, since we're talking on the topic of OKRs, you're like expert on this, what would you say is the number one piece of advice you would give to one of those organizations that hopefully will work with you to gain this transformation? What would you tell them they should be thinking about so that they would be successful?

Pedro Signorelli (00: 43:05): Executive sponsorship for the program.

Jenny Herald (00:43:08): Yeah, it starts with leadership, for sure. I believe it, too. Well, Pedro this has been an exceptional time I've had so much stuff like a joy and just listening to you share your story again, like your experience and how you saw it unfolded Nextel. Thank you so much for spending the time with us and all of your, I don't know, hopefully came across like that, passion for helping businesses succeed with our listener. So thank you so much.

Pedro Signorelli (00:43:36): Thank you for the opportunity, Jenny, for all these questions really impacts everything. I don't think that there are any more stones that we didn't took off the ground to look at it.

Jenny Herald (00:43:52): Well, that's it for this episode of dreams with deadlines. Thanks for listening. If you like today's episode, please subscribe and share. Show notes can be found on gtmhub.com/radio. If you want to learn more about our product and services, head out to gtmhub.com. If you have questions that you'd like answered on the show, shoot us an email at [email protected] Tune in next time!

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