Objectives and Key Results is the new agile management methodology sweeping through Silicon Valley and onto thousands of companies around the world. It works for Google, Amazon, Intel, Facebook, Sears, GE and many more – but will it work for your business?
If any of statements below are true for your business, these are signs that OKR could help your business too.
- We start stuff, but never seem to finish things, or if we do, its usually late
- Its difficult to make any lasting changes to our business processes
- Many colleagues could deliver more if they really wanted to
- My teams commit to doing things, but then drop them when they become too busy
- We discuss the same issues again and again in strategy meetings
- There always seem to be too many priorities but we can’t drop any
These are really common issues, because, let's face it, doing more than day-to-day of running the business is really hard. OKR theory fundamentally believes that the main reason for lack of progress is the time spent on things that don't really matter. So its not a case of working harder, just of working on the right things.
How does OKR work?
At its heart, its a methodology to move a team into a focused, aligned, energised and delivery driven mindset. Sounds great, but how does it actually work?
Well it does require a clear mission (what’s the business actually for) and vision (what should the business look like in 3 years time), to start with. It then breaks that down into a series of (usually) quarterly goals that move the business forward towards the vision. And the best bit – its not top down driven. Most of the goals come up from individuals and team leaders in the business, who see the overarching vision, and are invited to suggest goals for their area or team which align with the higher level company or departmental ambitions.
The effect is that staff are more engaged, more energised and more committed to delivering goals. After all, they suggested them. And what’s more, they enjoy it more, and tend to work creatively and energetically to achieve their goals.
Regular check-ins keep everyone focused on the goals they committed to. It also helps to remove blockages, gives opportunity for coaching feedback, and to praise strong progress. At the end of the period, goals are assessed against original ambitions, achievements celebrated and any learning taken away for the next cycle.
Once the company gets used to working in this way, more stretching goals can be sought – and delivered. The entire organisation becomes a humming mass of creative, energised, delivery oriented professionals working in perfectly aligned harmony (ok getting slightly carried away here maybe).
But more seriously, there’s enough evidence, interest and excitement about this way of working that as a business leader you can’t afford not to explore it. We’ve written a short e-book (10 minute read) to explain more about it.