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OKR playbook – A guide to ‘How to Implement OKR in your Team?’

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a management methodology that motivates the team to focus on what is important, optimize the performance, and formulate team goals that align with the business objective.   

How to Prepare OKRs for your Team?  

OKRs need to be discussed with your team before practicing them in your team or organization.  

Does your team know what OKRs are and how to plan them to reap their maximum benefits?  

The first step is explaining the concept of OKR to your team members and getting their inputs on ‘how they would plan an objective and its key results if they were leading a team?’ Depending upon the answers, the manager or the organizational head can know how much the members have understood the management tool.   

And everyone must understand that there is no one-size-fits-all model in setting OKRs. OKR can be set based on the context and culture of your business. Create a model, for example, it can be monthly, quarterly, or annual OKRs, that suits your business needs. Individual teams, before determining their objectives and key results, should be fully aware of the organization’s objective. After setting their own objectives, the teams must check whether the individual and team goals are aligned with the business objective.  

Impact of OKRs on Business Culture  

A culture of transparency is significant because:  

A strong leadership, plentiful resources, and a culture of transparency, teamwork, and innovation are needed to accommodate OKRs. OKRs might become a success or a failure depending upon the culture. OKRs should not become a source of the blame game. This might happen when there is no stable and open-minded leadership in the organization. The employees instead of conveying what is actually going on with their OKRs, twist the truth, and tell the leaders what they wanted to hear. The managers should let the team members know that failures are not reproachable, and failures are necessary to succeed. 

For instance, in 2009, Google set a stretch OKR for chrome to achieve 50 million seven-day active users. But they failed and ended the year with 38 million users. It is a failure for Google as they did not achieve the set objective, but they reached 0.7 in their 0 to 1 OKR scale. So, despite the failed objective, they have moved forward. Larry Page says, “If you set a crazy, ambitious goal and miss it, you’ll still achieve something remarkable.” But if it is below 0.7 or no growth, the hindrance should be identified and eliminated immediately.   

Different Types of OKRs  

OKR  Purpose  
Committed OKRs  OKRs that needs to be achieved. The score of OKRs should be 1.0. These key results and objectives have to be achieved to progress.  
Aspirational OKRs  OKRs to make the world look at us the way we want. The score can be an average of 0.7, and still can be considered a success  
Cross-functional OKRs  The work culture should facilitate cross-functional working. The cross-functional OKRs enable different teams to be clear on their part of delivery toward a common objective  

Organizational Buy-ins  

To make your team believe in what you believe, you must elaborate on the takeaways for them in the new approach. OKRs build the team’s commitment and increase the morale of the workforce. When the managers brainstorm ideas in setting OKRs along with their team members, the individuals gain the out-of-the-box thinking attitude, learn to set productive goals, and achieve results effectively. The teams also realize that there is no harm in trying the hardest and failing.   

Defining Objectives and Key Results  

An objective is inspirational, action-oriented, and tangible that leads the entire team or organization to focus on the priorities. John Doerr calls an objective ‘a vaccine against fuzzy thinking.’ Each team can have only 3 to 4 objectives, and the number varies depending upon the team strength. The objectives are duly set when they take you closer to your business objectives.   

For an objective, there can be 4 to 5 key results, and the key results should be measurable and verifiable. When the key results are achieved, the team should have necessarily reached the objective. The key results are not activities but outcomes and impacts. They should take you a step closer to the objective. The objectives and key results should be unambiguous to give clear direction and guidance to the team.  

OKRs are Hazardous If you do not Steer Clear of the Pitfalls  

  1. OKRs are not everyday tasks. They measure outcomes, not activities.  
  2. Do not confuse committed goals with aspirational goals. If you do so, it will lead to business failure, and also the team will develop a self-defensive attitude and play the blame game for not achieving the goals.   
  3. Sandbagging. Your OKRs should include all the available resources. If it does not, it is time for the management to revise the headcount in the team.  
  4. Do not set too many OKRs. Your team members should be able to remember their objective (priorities).  
  5. Create the required number of key results for an objective. Achieving your key results should mean that you have achieved your objective.  
  6. Forgetting the OKRs that you have set. Conduct weekly meetings to ensure that your team is on track.  

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