Sound Bites

Doing OKRs Doesn't Lead to Success. Focus Does.

with Deidre Paknad, WorkBoard CEO

Doing OKRs doesn't lead to success. Focus leads to success.

It's easy to confuse documenting your dreams with achieving them. Of course, alignment — getting aligned on the key results you're trying to achieve, the objectives you're trying to achieve — is essential. It clarifies for people which needles must move, how far and by when. But alignment is a procedural mechanism. It by itself doesn't deliver the outcomes; it's a prerequisite for them. You have to have alignment at scale, and with integrity and transparency, in order to have genuine alignment. If we can't see that we're aligned with each other, we're probably not.

You also need accountability. You need people to take responsibility for the outcomes that we aligned on. And accountability can help ensure that we have sustained, focused, and that we're capturing the learnings from our execution. And by accountability I mean things like monthly business reviews, ops reviews, weekly status, and staff meetings. But these too are procedural mechanisms. They're processes we go through, and they by themselves will not deliver the results you need. They need to have integrity, and they need to be fast enough to remove the risk in the results you're trying to achieve.

But where real results come from is focus. When we spend our time and apply our effort to the results we aligned on, then we achieve those results. This is the principal mechanism of achievement, not the procedural or the process mechanisms. This is how results are really achieved: when you make it easy for every stakeholder in the business to understand what needs their focus and where to focus their time, and to do that in the easiest possible way. So it's easier to focus on the results they're driving than on the last chat message they got, or their email inbox. Then they can focus on those results consistently, week over week.

And that's where real results come from.