OKR Implementation – The OKR Cycle Overview
The Objective and Key Result or OKR framework is a powerful tool for organizations to achieve their business goals. Often, teams are so stuck in the morass of reporting, busy work, urgent emails and project changes that it’s hard to see in which direction the organization is moving – if it’s moving at all.
With the OKR Methodology, organizations can escape the morass by creating clarity on goals for everyone and fostering the energy in a company to actually execute on it.
With clear objectives and key results you ensure alignment on business goals across teams and individuals. Businesses identify their most important business goals and break them down into smaller and achievable objective and key results.
Then, regular tracking of the key result progress and the information the OKRs provide enables teams to refocus on the biggest gaps and – which is called the OKR process. In detail, the OKR process follows four stages, which we’ll discuss below.
OKR Process Phase 1: Prepare for Goal Setting to Achieve Business Goals
The first phase of the objective and key result cycle is the setup and launch phase.
During this phase, organizations lay the foundation of the OKR framework by designing the OKR process, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and providing adequate training to all employees. The success of this phase is determined by the extent to which executive buyers are supportive and teams are inspired and excited for the upcoming change.
To achieve success in the setup and launch phase, organizations need to consider several factors. Firstly, they need to ensure that the OKR process is designed in a way that aligns with their business goals. This includes defining the scope and objectives of the program, identifying the key stakeholders, and establishing a clear communication strategy. Secondly, organizations need to ensure that roles and responsibilities are defined clearly to avoid any confusion or duplication of efforts. Thirdly, it is essential to provide adequate training to all employees to ensure that they understand the OKR process and its importance. Lastly, change management is crucial to ensure that the transition to the OKR framework is smooth and successful.
OKR Process Phase 2: Goal Setting and How to write OKRs
The second phase of the objective and key result cycle is the actual alignment and localization phase.
During this phase, organizations set their OKRs for the upcoming quarter, align them with their strategic priorities, and localize them for individual teams and departments. This phase’s success can be measured by ensuring that every team has set aspirational objectives with measurable key results that don’t compete with each other. Teams often ask for an Objectives and Key Result template (which you can find here). Yet, When working with an OKR template, it’s important to keep the strategic intent in mind. An OKR template is great for helping people understand the goal-setting theory, but in practice, OKRs are most meaningful when we don’t focus on how to write OKRs, but how to capture the strategic intent. While the OKR Methodology can be made visual with an OKR template, your business goals will only be meaningful if teams write OKRs that capture the Objectives and Key Results they need to change – not the one they found on Google. So, during your goal setting exercise, make sure to measure what matters, and not get bogged down on how to write OKRs according to goal-setting theory, but create OKRs that are right for your teams!
To achieve success in the alignment and localization phase, organizations need to ensure that their OKRs are aligned with their strategic priorities. This involves identifying the key business goals, defining the metrics to measure success, and communicating them to all stakeholders. It is also important to ensure that OKRs are localized for individual teams and departments to ensure that they are relevant and achievable. This involves setting realistic goals that are specific to each team’s role and responsibilities.
OKR Process Phase 3: Executing and refocusing on OKRs to achieve business goals
The third phase of the Objective and Key Result cycle is the Focus and Execute phase.
To achieve success in the focus and execute phase of the objective and key result cycle, organizations need to create a culture of accountability and transparency. This involves setting clear expectations for each team, providing them with the necessary resources and support, and holding them accountable for their performance. It is also important to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among teams to ensure that everyone is working towards achieving the same goals. Good OKR behavior like calibrating on Monday and celebrating on Friday can also help teams stay focused and motivated throughout the quarter.
This piece is often overlooked. Then building an OKR process, it’s critical to consider the change management needs and behavior guidelines that need to be set and trained across the organization. The difference between a failing and winning with OKRs is not the wording or setting of the OKR. It’s how teams engage with OKRs to course correct.
OKR Process Phase 4: Resetting your OKRs to improve your OKR Process and goal setting quarter over quarter
The fourth and final phase of the objective and key result cycle is the reflect and reset phase.
During this phase, organizations reflect on the previous quarter, learn from their experiences, and reset their OKRs for the upcoming quarter, aligning them with their strategic priorities. The success of this phase is determined by the organization’s ability to identify what worked well, what needs improvement, and establish new OKRs that are aligned with their strategic priorities.
To achieve success in the reflect and reset phase, organizations need to foster a culture of continuous improvement. This involves conducting regular reviews of the OKR process and OKR framework, soliciting feedback from all stakeholders, and using that feedback to make necessary improvements. It is also important to celebrate the successes and milestones achieved in the previous quarter to boost morale and motivation.
Are you ready to implement the OKR methodology in your organization? Get started by following the OKR process phases we outlined in this article – Prepare for Goal Setting, Goal Setting, Focus and Execute, and Reflect and Reset. Remember, the key to success is not just in setting and tracking OKRs, but also in creating a culture of accountability, transparency, and collaboration across your teams!