Is your OKR program
falling short?

You’ve introduced OKRs to your organization – but you’re starting to think that the process isn’t as effective as it could be. Despite all the effort, you’re still stressed, don’t have a clear oversight of where business is going, and aren’t any closer to executing your strategy. While helping our clients relaunch their OKR programs, we’ve identified some weaknesses that could affect the impact of the framework. Let’s find out what those are!

Common causes
of an ineffective OKR Program

Lack of a foundational OKR Process tailored to the org

Without a strong OKR process that's tailored to your organization’s needs and goals, your program will eventually crumble. There should be a strong, documented foundation with clear OKR parameters, governance structures and responsibilities that leave no doubt who’s accountable.

Unclear Communication and little change management

If the intent of the OKR program wasn't effectively communicated early on, this could be a cause for failure. Involve people early on with the proposed plan, next steps, their roles and responsibilities. This ensures that leadership, teams and individual contributors are excited and well-informed.

OKRs are not set with the strategic priorities in mind

Are your teams setting OKRs in isolation? Do they even know your priorities? OKRs should never be set without context. Otherwise, they run the risk of not even moving the needle in terms of strategy execution. They should always be localized from uplevel OKRs to ensure the overarching strategy is reflected.

Different understandings of the OKR methodology

Does everyone in your organization have the same uniform understanding of the OKR methodology and OKR working habits? If not, there is a good chance that everyone is approaching the framework differently. Training is essential to make sure everyone is on the same page and using OKRs effectively.

too many unanswered questions and no one to answer them

If there is no one to go to with questions regarding OKRs and the OKR processes in your organization, then people will lose interest and disengage. We find it's best to have an internal team of certified OKR coaches to assist teams in setting and working towards their OKRs.

OKRs are set, only to be forgotten and never updated

If OKRs are established but aren't consistently reviewed or updated during weekly check-ins and business reviews, this can be a significant problem. This 'set-and-forget' mentality can cause OKRs to become stagnant, making it harder for teams to actually make progress and reach their goals.

No support or buy-in from the executive team

The success of an OKR program heavily relies on the support and buy-in from the executive team. When leadership fails to fully endorse and participate in the OKR process, it can severely undermine the program’s success. This support is crucial for several reasons: they are the role models for the entire organization, it ensures alignment with strategic goals, and provides the necessary resources for achieving objectives.

If the executive team isn’t fully on board, don’t expect everyone else to be! To gain executive support for your OKR program, play into their priorities, speak their language, and explain how the program will benefit them and the organization as a whole.

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Low-quality OKRs

Low-quality OKRs are typically characterized by vagueness, lack of specificity, and poor measurability. Such OKRs often include broad or ambiguous objectives that fail to provide clear direction or purpose, making it difficult for teams to focus their efforts effectively. Key results associated with low-quality OKRs are usually not quantifiable or time-bound, leading to challenges in tracking progress and determining success. Additionally, low-quality OKRs may not be aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, rendering them irrelevant or disconnected from the broader mission.

These shortcomings result in confusion, lack of motivation, and ultimately, failure to achieve meaningful outcomes, hindering the overall success of the OKR program. 

High-quality OKRs should align up to the strategic intent of the organization. Only then, will OKRs help you effectively execute your strategy.

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Relaunch your OKR program with the five building blocks

If any of the above mentioned issues apply to your organization’s OKR program, it may be time to consider relaunching your program from the ground up.

Throughout 200+ large-scale OKR program implementations, we’ve noticed that the best OKR programs all consist of the same five building blocks.

Is your OKR program the best it can be?

The five building blocks to a successful OKR program.

We Value Our Clients And They Value Our Close Partnership

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Andrew Huxter VP Northern Europe & Growth Markets EMEA at ResMed

Wave Nine really helped us understand the “real-world” potential of OKRs and enabled us to build and embed them successfully into the commercial organization. The insights they shared in leading us through the cycle has really driven a change in how we prioritize and enabled us to establish a very productive operating rhythm.

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Jeff Rachlin VP Customer Success at Menlo

Wave Nine helped us come together as a team to create a shared set of goals, objectives, and key results. Embedding their experts into our teams has accelerated the OKR rollout throughout the organization and we have achieved greater focus and results. We really appreciate the support of Wave Nine and would recommend them to organizations looking to kick start their OKR initiatives.

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Khaldoon Al Harmi Manager – Planning & Development Strategic Planning and Evaluation at KFAS

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole Wave Nine team for their great efforts and support. You have been brilliant throughout; we couldn't have asked for more from you.

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Craig Snaguski Chief of Staff at Marvin Engineering

When we first tried implementing OKRs, we worked with another firm, but they didn’t have anywhere near the same level of engagement that Wave Nine would show. In the end, we got so much more from Wave Nine's expertise that it turned into a continuous engagement.

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Larry Sanford VP of Operations at GetSetUp

I was impressed by the Wave Nine team’s engagement from the start. They were highly responsive and they worked to understand our business. They came to serve as an extension of our company, making sure we were doing everything right as we streamlined our implementation.

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Nick Sullivan General Manager, Strategy at Kiwibank

What Kiwibank really enjoyed was that with Wave Nine, OKRs are such an intuitive system that makes you live and breathe OKRs, rather than just setting and forgetting OKRs.

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