OKR First Principles

Deidre Paknad  ::  Strategy & Execution

Using OKRs to align and achieve your best outcomes is quickly becoming a strategy execution norm... but OKRs are not MBOs and KPIs with another name. Rather than simply measuring operational metrics or individual performance, OKRs provide a common vocabulary and quarterly process for organizations and teams to articulate and align what they want to achieve, focus efforts on measurable outcomes, and iteratively learn with data over time.

Here are my first principles for success with OKRs:

1. Aim for great

Instead of target results that are the safest or most certain outcomes, define the best possible results. By defining them, you resource and prioritize them.

2. It's a Team sport

OKRs are set by and for teams, rather than defined by managers and assigned to team members. Team authorship leads to higher ownership and stronger inclusion of diverse perspectives.

3. Fast pace

OKRs are set quarterly. When teams define best outcomes in 90 days, time is a constraint to sharpen priorities and trade offs. Every 90 days, there is an opportunity to assess what's changed and learn from what's achieved; it creates agility and adaptability.

4. Drive with headlights

Instead of end of period measures that give you signal when it’s too late, key results shine a bright light on the ground in front of you so you can navigate well.

5. Leverage

The 3 hours teams spend defining objectives and key results they want to achieve in the next 90 days ensure everyone's time is well spent and high impact. The strategy executed is the sum of everyone's weekly choices; setting OKRs ensures those choices are strategic.

6. Global & local

Instead of top down or bottom up, OKRs are localized by teams into their nouns, verbs and numbers with global coherence and alignment. They can be set asynchronously and reconciled rather than in a sequential cascade.

Additional Reading

Fast Flexibility is a Recession Advantage

Fast Flexibility is a Recession Advantage

Leaders need to make strategy and resource allocation decisions every quarter to adjust course in response to unforeseen macro issues. They need a common source of truth on what value and outcomes thousands of teams across the organization are driving in order to make decisions that drive both durability and advantage, and then rapidly bring those decisions to life.

OKRs are a Competitive Advantage

OKRs are a Competitive Advantage

Jeff Gothelf, co-author of Lean UX and OKR expert, explains how teams that set their goals as OKRs have a unique competitive advantage in their market.

McKinsey and WorkBoard: Building a Digital Operating Rhythm with OKR Software

McKinsey and WorkBoard: Building a Digital Operating Rhythm with OKR Software

WorkBoard CEO and Co-founder Deidre Paknad joined Daniel Eisenberg, an Executive Editor at McKinsey & Co. for a recent conversation that covered the genesis of WorkBoard, the imperative for digital inclusivity, and what enterprises of all sizes can learn from the constraint mindset of startups.