A quick review of the most important presentations at the OKRx Summit.
The summit was perfectly organized with simultaneous translators too.
Those are my personal notes and do not represent the whole ideas presented during the summit. I strongly advise you to join the event next time if you were not able to attend it.
Christina Wodtke replied to many questions in a relaxed and encouraging way. It is clear she is able to navigate a huge amount of complexity and her experience is so wide she gave a couple of suggestions (this is my own personal take-away, not exactly her words):
- Do not focus on cascading OKRs with big companies, best to work on alignment instead of checking every sub-OKRs, that will mostly waste the time of the upper management. Use cascading with startups or small groups.
- Start with and rely on the most performing teams, usually they have the trust and the impact you want to start introducing changes company wide.
- Ensure there is trust in the company, ensure psycological safety, and hire and fire the right people.
Melanie Wessels spoke about how to keep people engaged with OKRs, they are like cakes, and it can be a pleasure to set and follow them. They are not something on top of your common duties, just another way of achieving goals. In addition, it is nice to see and measure you accomplished something.
She mentioned Julia Child
A party without a cake is just a meeting
Omid Akhavan suggested how to balanced Business As Usual tasks, KPI, Health Metrics and OKRs, the key for him is: great planning and prioritization.
A question about scoring the Key Results ended with the reply that perfectly align with the Agile principles: do not rely only on score, think about the OKR as a whole and let’s start a discussion if you do not achieve it fully, at the end of the day OKRs should help you, not run against you.
Evan Campbell, if you do not know him, is the founder of Gtmhub, one of the new OKR tooling company that got it right.
He said: let’s not just have a strategy, but be prepared to adapt itto new learnings.
Victory comes from executing a great strategy, not just by having a strategy, so execution is even more important than the strategy itself.
Breaking the strategy into 3 points
- Strategy development, defining it. Relates to writing down mission and vision in the long term, let’s say 3 years objectives.
- Strategy deployment, communicate and translate it to the business units and teams working on it. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Relates to yearly/quarterly OKRs.
- Strategy execution, track if and how well we are realizing the strategy. Relates to OKR performance tracking.
Remember that value is create horizontally and OKRs are intended to enable collaborations.
Let’s look at the anti-patterns he spoke about.
And, he is saying the same thing as Christina Wodtke, do not cascade objectives, they are hard to adjust at big scale, and if something changes, you will have to change all the sub-OKRs. That cost us time.
And again, same words, do not tie OKRs to compensation, as Christina Wodtke is saying, they will create psycological unsafety and will affect trust between employee and employer forever. You will never going to be able to recover from this mistake.
OKRs tied to compensation could promote jerks at work. Also, Andy Grove warns us about it. Please, avoid that and be very careful.
OKRs are not a silver bullet, you need to seriously invest in the OKR process, the cerimonies, and the people involved in the process. You cannot skip stuff like continous tracking on the KR, or not finding the OKR champions in your company.
Identify dependencies and improve horizontal collaboration.
Bart den Haak
How to make the OKRs lean again!
People do not like OKRs anymore, why? Because we added too much process on top of them. They are just goals at the end of the days.
- A story, an enterpreneur (Pedro) made a survery and got an e-NPS score of 4 out of 10. So he started looking into OKRs, he then search for an OKR software and got 7M results, found a good one, and then seen for a certification.
He participated into the OKR training and obtained a certification, now what? He spent time, and money, and did not move the needle of the status of the company.
- He started cascading OKRs in the company, one for each team, at the end, all the teams had OKRs, but, after a significant amount of time, still nothing happened.
- Then, they added personal OKRs, and again, still nothing changed other than having spent a lot of time in the process itself.
- There is always Business As Usual, and people forgot about OKRs, mainly due to conflicting priorities and lack of progress tracking.
- All the teams where using OKRs but there was a total lack of alignment. Every team was driving in a different direction.
Do not jump into execution, if you do not have a strong strategy yet.
Keep it simple, focus just on 1 objective and 3 key results, not too many.
You could follow the Value Creation Model to strategically align on the most important goal.
Think about the system, not just the goal, you need a fully operational system before executing a goal.
Explain the why of each goal, to involve and motivate people.
It is time for another great personality in the OKR space, Ben Lamorte, the founder of okrs.com
He started speaking about the new The OKRs Field Book, to coach coaches about how to be better coaches 😃.
For him OKRs is a thinking framework, and it is more like a maieutic process (this is my own comment on it). As an OKR coach you mainly ask question, the replies are going to come from the organization.
- Where do we want to focus on? Why? And why now?
- At the end of the period, how we know we achieved the objective?
- What is the intended outcome of task X?
Not seeing Individual-level OKRs, this is a good thing, even Googler are saying to stop doing invididual OKRs for evaluation (and Andy Grove warned us about it about 40 years ago).
It some companies or cultural context could work, but in general, it is hard to manage.
Crawl-Walk-Run companies are starting smaller and expand to the rest of the company. Understand the OKR process before scaling it massively (2–3 cycles are enough)
The number of OKRs is trending down so people are really focused and it is simpler to manage, even if more difficult to execute.
Objective description is replaced with Why Now? Now companies know what are the important things, but they want to know the most important ones and they need a simple framework to prioritized them.
OKRs cycles are shifting from 3 months to 4 mainly due to holidays and sales of financial schedules. Do not make it more stressful, just more valuable.
Orgs are focusing on Internal OKR focused on culture, retention, and remote work especially after the pandemic, companies are looking at internal happyness and retention, to create a common workplace that people enjoy working with.