Turn business strategy into measurable goals with objectives and key results.
Objectives and Key Results. OKR is a goal system used by many large, fast-moving organisations and smaller but similarly ambitious companies. It is a simple tool to create alignment and engagement around the achievement of goals. The framework is used by many top-achieving companies to attain exceptional success. It is a management framework designed to ensure organisations share clarity of their objectives with those responsible for achieving desired outcomes. The objective is usually a qualitative aspirational goal, key results being measurable outcomes themselves supported by tasks in a clear line of sight.
The approach is used to turn business strategy into measurable goals and focus employees, teams and the entire organisation on the work that delivers the greatest business impact. It is a method of seeing how everyone in the organisation is contributing to company success and ensure everyone is working together towards the same ultimate goal. This helps to build a culture of transparency and shared achievement and by allowing everyone to see each other’s contributions towards your organisation’s success.
How it all started
When in June 2018 John Doerr’s definitive “Measure what Matters” reached No.1 on the New York Times’ monthly chart of best-selling business books, OKRs moved from the darling methodology of Silicon Valley’s tech companies into the mainstream as a highly effective business management technique. With a lineage dating back to Peter Drucker’s 1954 seminal work on management by objectives it was the success of Objectives and Key Results (a term coined at Intel by Andy Grove and introduced to Google in 1999 by former Intel employee now angel investor John Doerr) which is credited as one of the factors helping the nascent search engine business grow to a company of 70,000 employees valued at $700billion.
What are OKRs and why are they unique?
OKRs’ point of difference lies in their inherent simplicity as a tool for providing alignment and buy-in to a company’s stated business goals and strategies cutting through layers of management and ensuring that every employee has a clear line of sight of the direction of the business. In addition to providing clear focus and alignment, well-constructed objectives and key results will stretch employees with ambitious deliverables tracked in a regular weekly cadence and re-calibrated at least on a quarterly basis in a motivating rhythm, promoting accountability of team and individual. Key results which measure the successful outcomes of effort rather than quantity of output ensure that meaningless or unaligned work is soon dispensed with.
By cross-cutting through business silos, OKRs also promote collaborative working and ensure that business conversations at all levels revolve around the three to five key annual results which will lead to company success when everyone pulls in the same direction. Quarterly OKRs ensure the more granular and immediate aligned priorities are attended to.
At Auxin we will help you set and introduce OKRs or reboot them after your first attempt with an OKR health check (most companies struggle initially, only the most assured can make things look that easy). We’ve many years of business management and mentoring experience ourselves and have now adopted OKR as the cornerstone of all our consultancy assignments, not to mention using it for Auxin’s own business planning. And yes, we struggled first and second time around and are happy to share those experiences with you if it helps. Along the way, we’ve created our own unique resources for helping prioritise the things that really matter and will share these with you too as soon as we formally engage.
Auxin’s team of experienced business directors will help you navigate through some of the challenges of identifying moon-shot and roof-top goals, measurable “needle moving” key results while ensuring whole company buy-in and liberating the ideas and energy created through top down and bottom up goal setting. By helping you identify the most appropriate key results, you can avoid conflicting and muddled objectives, results and tasks, one of the most common early pitfalls.
Once you are up and running, we can provide on-site and remote coaching, train on-site advocates and even help you identify suitable software should you choose to use one of the many off the shelf subscription packages now available to streamline and publish OKRs throughout your business. If you feel you need it, we’re happy to engage in a long-term support project, but in reality (and especially if you identify a senior manager to drive this) you’ll soon be confidently running your own quarterly sessions. Common sense, as well as numerous academic studies, suggest that informed employees who understand and share their employer’s business vision, the why what and how of business strategy will retain their talented staff longer and are consistently more likely to succeed in the mid to long-term.
Every company faces their own unique set of circumstances and challenges. John Doerr and Andy Grove faced theirs at Intel and the more recent case studies cited in “Measure what Matters” (including successful tech start-ups like Remind, Nuna and MyFitnessPal). These all attest to the power of the Objectives and Key Results in building strong businesses which solve customer problems while facing down competitors with a compelling strategy known and executed by every employee and at all levels. OKRs are of the moment, a powerful and unifying business tool suitable for a start-up to a world-leading enterprise in any sector. At Auxin we’re 100% converts to the power of Objectives and Key Results; we look forward to helping you drive business growth with bespoke support when you need it most.
To find out what is involved and scope out your OKR project, get in touch: