OKRs aren’t about OKRs

I have a real love-hate relationship with OKRs, thats despite having had training and working with them for over 4 years.

You’ve got to consider that the methodology is flawed when even after several years and cycles, staff (not just ones i’ve worked with directly, but people from other companies that i’ve not had prior interaction with), still don’t fully grasp how to implement OKRs.

I think its reasonable to agree that the effectiveness of a methodology is in its ability to be understood, adopted and provide results, and to this point, i think OKRs are rather weak.

I wasn’t alone as someone implementing OKRs who would spend weeks trying to agree and align and figuring out what are reasonable OKRs, and even then, they’d be liable to change, I found that we’d be spending hours each month just agreeing on OKRs instead of doing the work to accomplish the OKRs, the irony.

However, I think the philosophy and frameworks that OKRs provide are great. What I Like –

  • regular reviews
  • accountability and alignment across the organisation
  • stretch goals and outcome focus
  • structured breakdown and planning
  • the discussion, thinking and debate that comes from trying to define and justify each OKR

To this point I think that OKRs are more a philosophy and mindset around setting goals rather than a process or method that they claim to be.

For me, i think the most valuable part of the OKR philosophy is the discussion and alignment – that group consensus and buy-in that we are all working on the right things, for the right reasons and the right priority, whether you use OKRs (out of the box) or you stick with NSMs and KPIs, i think you’ll agree that knowing we are all working on the right things, for the right reasons and the right priority is crucial in moving any business forward.

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