DAN STRUBBE
Director of Revenue, Malwarebytes

WorkBoard at Malwarebytes

Sponsor:
CEO

Business Process Owner:
Chief People Officer

WorkBoard Scope:
Enterprise wide platform, program launch and OKR coaching services

Key impacts:
Accelerated growth

OKR coaches:
60

Customer since:
Fall 2018

We sat down with Dan Strubbe, Director of Revenue at Malwarebytes, to talk about the impact of OKRs and coaching internal teams on creating them. Dan talks about how localizing OKRs fosters alignment, increases visibility, and brings transparency to the growing team at Malwarebytes.

WorkBoard: Dan, Tell us about the process and the impact of localizing objectives and key results to every team in the organization at Malwarebytes?

Dan Strubbe, Director of Revenue at Malwarebytes: The biggest impact of localization, to me, is transparency, as it allows you to see how OKRs trickle down throughout the organization. So, I can see OKRs set by the exec team, and how those roll down into, for example, VPs, and then directors, and kind of across the organization. Localization gives you great visibility. 

How does each team’s set of localized OKRs help them focus on what matters most?

Being able to trace yourself back to the top is so important. You can see how what you’re doing ties back into the OKRs that are set by your boss, and your boss’ boss — all the way up to the executive level.

How does the WorkBoard app support alignment and transparency?

We’re talking conceptually here, about this transparency and being able to see it. But it’s literal. Within the app, you can see OKRs across the organization. I can go in and see OKRs from the execs, and all the way down across the entire organization. Having that visibility is really, really powerful.

As part of the finance team, how does this help you support other functions across the org?

We do a lot of cross-functional work, so it’s important to be able to see what other organizations are doing for initiatives that relate to us or are important to us. In some cases, we even have a linked KR, where, for instance, a project that another team is owning is highly relevant to us. So, it allows for a lot of cross-functional visibility and alignment.

The company’s grown a lot in the last few years, and it’s been hard to maintain transparency. So, being able to go into WorkBoard and look at what’s important to anyone in the organization is super powerful.

Tell us about the impact WorkBoard has had for you and your team.

I use it as a one-on-one tool, almost as an agenda item. So, I regularly, in one-on-ones, have my laptop open, and I run down the list of KRs as it relates to the individual (or not). It’s a nice pre-built agenda item. And then related from that, we can see if there’s something — a project, task, or something that’s taking a meaningful amount of time — that’s not a KR. Then we ask, “Are we properly focused, or did we miss the KR if it’s early in the cycle? Maybe we should add something.”

So, I use it as a tool for recurring one-on-ones, and the focus is important, too, right? Because if you’re not working on a KR, then you should ask yourself a question.

Totally. You should ask yourself, “Why not?”

Yes. “Why not?” Or, “Did I miss something? Something may have surfaced as a more important KR, which is fine. These aren’t set in stone — you can change, and sometimes you should.

Has it shifted the way your conversations go? Because you’re really having conversations within the things that matter most now.

Yes. I think it leads to more relevant conversations.

How have WorkBoard and OKRs changed the way you work?

I just mentioned we’re in WorkBoard for one-on-ones. But I’m also in there fairly regularly, keeping track of my own OKRs and holding myself accountable on whether or not I’m focused on doing the right things. And for the team as well — are we collectively doing the right things? And there are built-in features, like email reminders, that prompt you to action. But personally, I use it to hold myself accountable.

Tell me about being a participant in the first OKR workshop. What was it like? How did it help the team? How’d it go?

The first session’s always messy. That’s just because people are often new to the idea of an OKR. They’re also new to WorkBoard. For us, we started both simultaneously, which I think is actually a really good thing — to have a tool that organizes some of the chaos. 

It’s been fun to watch the evolution. I had done OKRs before, so I had some comfort around the notion of 80% being a good thing — the differentiation between your most likely versus best possible outcome. But it was fun to watch people work through that concept of, “What do you mean 80% is good?” 

People sometimes get too task-oriented, which loses a little bit of the sight of an objective, which is supposed to be this big grand idea. And even a KR should be a little higher than a task, right? So, there’s some growing pains, which is fine, and part of the process.

But it also evolves pretty quickly. Our first session was close to three hours, which is probably common. And we’re doing them in an hour and a half or less now. So, there’s definitely an evolution as people figure it out.

Have the conversations changed, as well, quarter over quarter?

Yes. It’s easier to focus, and it’s easier to know if you’re being realistic when you’re creating a KR, or if you’re shooting too high — or too low. The conversations are easier and have shifted in that regard. We have better instincts now. On our third session we just did around what the team’s capable of, what’s too much, what’s too little, we spent a little less time debating, “Is that measurable? How are we going to measure that? Who’s responsible for it?” There’s definitely been a shift in the KR review, and sessions, and reset.

The immediate impact for the finance and accounting organization is that I can be a leader in the reset sessions for my team and for the broader teams. It helps me tie the whole Malwarebytes picture together.

Tell me about your role as an OKR coach at Malwarebytes.

Coaching is kind of fun. The immediate impact for the finance and accounting organization is that I can be a leader in the reset sessions for my team and for the broader teams. I’ve also sat in on a few other OKR setting or resetting sessions across the organization, which is a good way to help others in the organization, and I really enjoy the opportunity to see what some of the other teams are doing more deeply. I also enjoy getting to know other people and seeing what’s important to them and what they’re working on. It helps me tie the whole Malwarebytes picture together.

How has transparency helped across teams?

The company’s grown a lot in the last few years, and it’s been hard to maintain transparency. So, being able to go into WorkBoard and look at what’s important to anyone in the organization is super powerful. You don’t need to ask; you don’t need permission — you just go in and look. 

Can you describe the WorkBoard impact in three words?

Centralization, clarity, and transparency. The centralization and the clarity are really key here because you could have transparency by shared emails, or Google Docs, or spreadsheets, etc. But the centralization of having everything in WorkBoard — where you can easily search and go see it all in a clear, easy-to-digest method — brings that transparency together, which is always important for people to feel like they know what’s happening across the organization.

What’s your favorite WorkBoard feature?

I like the Running Business Reviews. They’re a good tool to bring all of the other components of WorkBoard together. You can pull in objectives, KRs, and action items and organize them. And the hotbox is a good way to call out things that need attention. So, you can put all this together in one nice, kind of easy-to-digest screen. 

I think OKRs are a super powerful tool, and I think WorkBoard is a great way to organize them, access and see them, and keep track of them — without having to chase emails, or shared spreadsheets, or who knows what else.

  Click here to download this transcript.

About Dan Strubbe
Dan Strubbe is currently Director of Revenue at Malwarebytes. He is a CPA, Certified OKR Coach, and graduate of San Jose State University. He was previously Director of Accounting at 23andMe.

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