How can organizations adopt OKRs successfully?

Many experts say that non-software factors contributes more than 75% of the overall OKR program’s success. While software only contributes up to 25% of the OKR program success. From our experience, this is indeed true because there are many “soft” factors that determine the successful rollout of any OKR Program.

Like many others, we may even suggest that your organization start with spreadsheets or slides for pilot OKR rollout if the data entry requirement is not high and implementation is not complex. Only when your team is familiar with OKR, then you implement it with software. We realized that when a OKR program did not meet expectations, many will blame on software but in fact it could be many other reasons such as organization culture, leadership style, setting OKRs wrongly etc.

Before we roll out OKR program in any organization, we find that it is extremely important that one studies each situation in two perspectives.

  1. OKR Implementation Experience
  2. Willingness to learn and invest in best OKR practices

The 2 x 2 OKR Success Grid shown below has the “Willingness to learn and invest in the best OKR practices” in the Y axis and “OKR Implementation Experience” in the X axis.

OKR Success Grid

Explorer

Explorer refers to an organization that has just began learning about OKR and perhaps decides to test OKR on a small scale such as senior management team or a specific department. An Explorer might not be ready to invest too much into OKR yet. We noticed that a problem with Explorers is that they try to implement OKR on their own when they do not have enough practical experience and abandoned OKR program because of their refusal to seek external help. Even if such help is readily available at no or little cost. Another problem could arise if they try to run other performance measurement programs with OKRs which could result in duplication of work.

Enthusiast

Enthusiast refers to an organization that has no or little OKR implementation knowledge but believes in the system after learning more about OKRs from various information sources. An Enthusiast is willing to commit significant time and money into making OKRs work, usually with the help from OKR consultants. Those in this group are usually most likely to become Aficionado or Expert after running OKR for a few quarters. However, Enthusiasts need to be careful not to accelerate their OKR implementation too quickly. Especially not before there are enough staff who are knowledgeable about OKRs to guide those who are less experienced. Rushing through implementation could result in less than desired outcomes which could disillusion some.

Contented

Contented refers to an organization that has implemented OKRs for several quarterly cycles and OKR has become part of their routine. However, they are contented where they are and do not seek to improve their OKR program even if they know their OKR program has much room for improvement, for example in data automation or reporting. As situations do change, those organizations that are contented with status quo might find they are out competed by others despite adopting OKRs. After all, OKR is a framework and the contents that go into setting up and running a OKR program is extremely important.

Aficionado

Aficionado or Expert refers to an organization that has successfully implemented OKR for several quarterly cycles and OKR has become part of the organization’s culture. However, the organization is always seeking to learn and implement best practices from others including OKR consultants. An area of concern for Aficionados is the constant changing of their OKR programs to adopt the best practices or technologies, which could overwhelm some employees. Hence, a balance needs to be struck.

To adopt OKR successfully, an organization needs to set the right expectations depending on the stage they are at in the quadrant. Proper guidance is often required for those adopting OKRs for the first time as setting the right objectives and key results is not that easy, especially if it involves several teams. Furthermore, organizations need an effective system to track, monitor and communicate OKRs to their people in order to get their buy-in. The best time to implement OKRs if often together with or right after a strategic planning session or review so that OKR framework can be used to assist in strategy execution.

If you wish to find out more about OKRs, please feel free to contact us via email at admin@mavenpolis.com or click on the Contact Us button below.

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