OKRs provide a common vocabulary for defining intentions (the objective) and how success will be measured (the key results), and they clarify accountability for measuring and driving those results over the quarter. Clarity on outcomes is the key ingredient for accountability and achievement.
While it can seem like a waste of time to discuss objectives and key results at quarter start, it really ensures that the 530 hours every member of the team has in the quarter isn’t wasted on the wrong work or outcomes. Real alignment beats hidden assumptions every time! For cross functional efforts, agreeing on how the group wins together is key to winning at all.
The 3 steps below make aligning on outcomes fast, fun and fruitful for your team.
Set the stage. Add your thoughts on what objectives and results might be. Bring other OKRs onto the Canvas as a reference.
Source ideas in advance. Give people time to think and gather their thoughts ahead of time so the conversation doesn’t wander.
Give the team a timeline. Give people and few days head of the conversation time but give them a firm deadline to both provide comments and read other people’s.
Get to first draft fast. Using the team’s conversation and ideas, use WorkBoard OKR Co-Author to draft an objective from a raw idea. Click into the objective field, add basic direction and ask co-author to suggest an objective. It takes about 5 minutes – not 50 minutes – to iterate until it hits the mark!
Draft good Key Results quickly. Use your conversation notes to set your key results or ask Co-Author to refine your input into measurable key results. In seconds, Co-Author can make it shorter, more specific, more measurable and so on – you don’t have to be an expert to get to great OKRs quickly.
Publish when you’re ready. Leave your OKRs on the canvas and socialize with others before you publish – it will stay in draft until you’re ready to publish. Invite others to your canvas and encourage them to leave notes where they have input or suggestions.
Decide whose buy in you need. Make 20 minutes to discuss team OKRs with other teams upon which you depend or to whom you deliver outcomes; get a firm handshake on shared understanding.
It’s go time. Click publish to post your OKRs so others can see them, and your team can measure and drive progress to the results you aligned on.
There is nothing less effective than spending a quarter doing the wrong work; agreeing at the outset of the quarter how success is defined and measured enables everyone to work autonomously toward the right results over the quarter. Finding the right balance of constructive debate and decision making is not easy – but teams improve at it with practice and the most successful teams have nailed it.
Remember, by discussing key results every two weeks, teams quickly find and adjust key results that weren’t quite right, and can capture what they’ve learned, refine key results and improve their impact each quarter. Have a healthy discussion without getting stuck – this is an agile, iterative process for focusing everyone’s efforts on shared outcomes!
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