Every workplace wants and aims to be efficient. Aims to be productive, creative, and organized. Lofty ambitions that have become catchwords in today’s business environments, never mind that just a few years ago, these goals were much easier said than done. Traditional management and organizational “leadership” methods were very much the norm, regardless of the fact that these methodologies were not only very much out of date, but also counterproductive (and even destructive in some cases).
But today, with the advent of social media — the technology and concept of which business have adapted for their own needs and requirements — and other progressive technological and digital (such as the digital dashboard) developments, these goals are within arm’s reach. Many companies are moving forward in developing their own respective “performance culture”. And there are many methods, techniques and tools to this end, and one of them is OKR. Many OKR examples have been adapted in recent years by many prominent organizations, and they have been met with astounding success.
What is OKR and what are some OKR examples?
To begin with, OKR stands for “objective and key results”. It may sound underwhelming, but think about it. This simple phrase is incredibly profound, and encapsulates organization and goal success in just three words. The use of various OKR examples and methods have been gaining traction in many companies in recent years, and many are singing praises about how positively transformative this has been for their respective companies and organizations.
Business and companies use OKR examples to launch high-level initiatives and goals that are measurable and can be tracked regularly over time. The frequency of the assessment (usually quarterly), the tracking and re-evaluation are also part of what sets OKR examples apart from traditional planning, management, and development methods.
In addition, efficiency and speed is a major factor in ORK — the faster, the better. This is made possible by the whole tracking aspect of the method, where the organization keeps a close eye on milestones and smaller goals that comprise the larger mission and objective. The concept has been around for awhile — it was developed in the 1970’s by Andy Grove, but has been popularized by John Doerr (according to an article by the Harvard Business Review). Doerr (who is aptly named), was one of the earliest to invest in tech giant Google, and according to a Forbes article, believed in the method so much that he pushed for its adoption in Google’s earliest days. Fellow executives took a chance and the company adapted it.
Needless to say, the rest is history. It goes without saying that OKR examples, when properly utilized, can have a significant effect on a company’s development and growth; Google’s massive growth can be attributed to OKR, which is why it is only prudent for other companies to consider its implications, study its benefits, and look at ways OKR examples can be adapted and made a part of how they operate and do business, and meet business purposes in the process.
Any of the many OKR examples are effective in setting and cascading initiatives and goals throughout the organization, through a unique method of getting teams, groups, departments, executives, and even rank-and-file employees in-touch and striving to meet both collective and individual goals within that organizational context in a measurable way. This is another defining factor to OKRs that set them apart. This helps forward both organizational and individual growth while keeping sight of the organization’s greater objective and goal. As a result, all stakeholders are aligned and move in harmony towards a common goal.
Another thing: don’t confuse OKRs with KPI’s or key performance indicators. The latter is more data and metrics, and is also equally important to organization growth (but that’s something for another time). All OKR examples deal with greater and more ambitious goals that while measurable in terms of progress, aren’t as granular as KPIs. Many objectives in many OKR examples are comprised of around two to five key results, according to a Workpath article on the subject.
While these goals are bigger, they are by no means vague — another important distinction to make when defining OKRs — and every stakeholder in every level of the business has a more or less clear view or idea of what the organization is trying to achieve. In short, OKRs allow for a unified and universal understanding for all members of the organization about what needs to be done without putting unnecessary limitations on how these various stakeholders can meet goals and develop their own solutions to address issues and move towards those set objectives.
Besides Google, other notable companies who use OKR include Intel, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Oracle.
Benefits of using OKRs
The use of OKRs come with many benefits. Google has built its success partly through the use of OKRs, which should be enough testament to its efficacy. But let’s go a little more in-depth and look at the specific pros of using OKRs, many of which are applicable and can be utilized in any organization, regardless of what industry it belongs to.
1. Helps employees move, cooperate, and work in unison
One of the major problems in many organizations is that many of its many teams fail to cooperate and work in harmony. The problem is further exacerbated when it comes to working with teams from another organization. The good thing about OKRs is that the constant re-assessment of how the corporate goals are to be met helps address any issues and gives teams the chance to frequently recalibrate how they work together and with others.
2. Makes directions clear and concise; puts everyone in the same page
In the same vein, the frequency of how goal progression is measured and assessed means that everyone is put on the same page as to where individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole is when it comes to meeting the goals that were set at the onset. Think of it as an effective and productive reminder of sorts that puts everyone on the same page. But not only that, OKRs also enable problems to be solved faster, and for opportunities for efficiency to be spotted early and utilized. OKRs also serve as a preventive measure, and can help decision-makers spot possible pitfalls down the road and develop countermeasures and backup plans to help minimize any effects of a possible negative event.
3. Increases productivity
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. What happens when teams and individuals work seamlessly together and everyone, from the executives to the rank-and-file employees, are on the same page and are working together towards a common goal? Productivity increases. EXPONENIALLY. A performance culture is developed and enhanced, since there is less friction and tension between all members of the organization. With all eyes encouraged to look forward towards a set goal, people are less distracted (and are less tempted to look for distractions, even) and will be more productive.
4. Makes decision-making more informed and effective
OKRs are a boon for decision-makers. Once again, the very nature of OKRs that allow for frequent and regular reassessment and measurement of progress vs. goals help executives and leaders make more informed decisions about direction and initiatives, both in the short and long run. OKR by nature needs data to help realign things, so decision-makers will be sure to have access to the most recent and most relevant data they need.
5. Aids in promoting transparency and accountability
Reassessment means more transparency. When an organization continuously recalibrates the way it operates and they way individuals and teams work, more mistakes are spotted, especially in the early stages. This means everyone is made more accountable and there his a higher level of transparency, since any mistakes and the issues these cause are addressed and made aware for everyone. The same thing applies to any noteworthy progress. OKRs look for best practices within the organization and seek to make it SOP (standard operating procedure) throughout the company.
6. Empowers teams and individuals
OKRs are designed in such a way that while it puts everyone on the same page, it never loses its collaborative nature. As such, both individuals and teams are much more empowered to grow and develop since as long as the short-term goals that fuel progress towards the larger objective are met, they are free to meet these things largely on their own terms. OKRs are not about rule-setting but more about putting the organization on the same path and encouraging a common mindset and attitude towards meeting objectives. A good analogy would be of a relay team running a race.
There are not hard-set rules as to their running form or the equipment they need to use — the main goal is to get to the finish line as fast as possible. Part of what makes OKRs so effective in organizations is that creativity and progressive thinking aren’t stifled, they’re even encouraged — as long as it helps everyone meet that common goal at the end.
Three pointers in making OKRs effective
Naturally, there are a number of pointers to remember when developing any OKR method for any particular organization.
1. Invest in communication
OKRs lose their effectiveness if decision-makers don’t communicate with the people below them. In fact, not putting a premium on organization communication and engagement with all stakeholders is the antithesis to OKRs. And by invest, we don’t mean money in as much as we mean investing in the time and effort it takes to help put everyone on the same page. This means giving everyone the means and the space to help steer each other towards the right path to meeting the organization’s larger goals.
2. Invest in organization and look for what fits best
OKRs are organized. This means that you need to establish the corporate infrastructure (usually digital) to make that happen. This also means assessing when it is best to study progress and data and make the necessary adjustments to the way things are being done. Most OKRs are assessed quarterly, but that doesn’t necessarily work for every company or business. Some have seen greater success making more frequent assessments like monthly or even weekly. For others, a half-year or even annual evaluation works for their culture better.
3. Invest in the right tools for the job
The efficacy of OKRs are maximized when the organization is equipped with the right tools to make things happen. This is where customizable and intuitive workflow management tools and software come it. These ensure that companies and their respective decision-makers have the freedom to manage their respective workflows in a way the best fits the organization’s needs.
Intuitive tools like Runrun.it Smart Time Tracking and Dashboard features are indispensable in helping measure an OKRs success and progress. These tools provide real-time data on things like how time is being managed in general, or work progress statistics, and other information sets an organization needs to see the progress of their OKRs. To see how Runrun.it’s tools can work for you and help you maximize your OKR, check out the free trial here.