Tag Archives: OKRs

Managing OKRs in a Quarter with Moving Targets

okrLast week, we introduced OKRs as a framework that our company has been undertaking for the past 2 quarters. Terence, the founder, also shared with us some things that he has learnt from setting company goals. This was followed by Sam, our content lead. In our last entry on OKRs, Jo, in charge of business development will be sharing their thoughts on using OKRs as a way to manage team and individual objectives!

 

joanneHi Jo! How has the OKRs helped you be more productive / goal oriented?

Hi. I think it really helps to have objectives planned every quarter as it gives a macro perspective of how I am positively contributing to the company. I treat goal oriented & productivity as the same thing because OKR is essentially goals that you set. By focusing on those goals, it helps you to focus your activities on productive things that help you to hit those goals.

While getting a 1.0 for OKRs sounds ideal, having too many 1.0s also means that the OKRs you set are not ambitious or broad enough.

How does it help you manage your day to day tasks? 

It helps me to filter my day-to-day tasks and to focus on those activities building up to my OKRs. I print out my OKRs and put them near me to remind myself that I should be focusing on tasks that help to reach those goals.

How does it help you to evaluate your own competencies and plan for the next quarter of OKRs?

The review process for OKRs is very interesting. While getting a 1.0 for OKRs sounds ideal, having too many 1.0s also means that the OKRs you set are not ambitious or broad enough. Ideally, we should be striving to set goals which are just a little bit out of reach to push yourself to do better. When I was reviewing my OKRs for the previous quarter, I realised that I had many “0”s because the OKRs that I had set out to do were no longer relevant given the directional changes that our company made during the quarter. That made me realise that in a certain season in the company where our targets might be constantly shifting, it may be good to review OKRs more often.

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Part 1: How to Use Google’s OKRs For Your Company

Part 2: 4 Things I’ve Learn from Managing Company Goals with OKRs

Part 3: Individual OKRs as Cascaded OKRs of the Company

Individual OKRs as Cascaded OKRs of the Company

okrLast week, we introduced OKRs as a framework that our company has been undertaking for the past 2 quarters. Terence, the founder, also shared with us some things that he has learnt from setting company goals. In the following entries, some from our team will be sharing their thoughts on using OKRs as a way to manage team and individual objectives! First up, we’ve Sam, the content lead.

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samfamHi Sam. How has OKRs helped you be more productive? 

OKRs serve an important reminder that most of my time should be spent on productive work rather than busy work. When my daily activities are more aligned with my OKRs, that’s when I believe it helps with my productivity. It’s not always easy though. Sometimes when you get swept up in other things that need your attention, you neglect some of your OKRs. I learnt that I should set aside time to reflect on my OKRs and reassess the importance of some of them relative to other work. 

 I have learnt to reflect on the things that are relevant to the ultimate goals of the company, and plan my OKRs from there. 

How does it help you manage your day to day tasks? 

I don’t think it helps me manage day to day activities. However, it  helps to set the direction for the key goals I should accomplish within the quarter and the key tasks I have to do in order to achieve these goals. Some of these tasks don’t necessarily happen on a day-to-day basis, but certain periods during the quarter. 

What is one thing you have learnt from setting OKRs and how has that helped you to plan for the next quarter of OKRs? 

This is still a work in progress. The last time I wasn’t so sure of how to go about setting the OKRs and what were the specific steps involved to achieve the goals. I spent more time doing things unrelated to my individual OKRs, but interestingly enough these were things related to the company OKRs. It has helped me realised that I’ve got to plan my individual OKRs as cascaded OKRs of the company. For the next quarter, I have learnt to reflect on the things that are relevant to the ultimate goals of the company, and plan my OKRs from there. 

Part 1: How to Use Google’s OKRs For Your Company

Part 2: 4 Things I’ve Learn from Managing Company Goals with OKRs

Part 4: Managing OKRs in a Quarter with Moving Targets

4 Things I’ve Learnt from Managing Company Goals with OKRs

okrIn our previous blog post about OKRs, we talked about the OKR process and how the process of implementation works for an organisation. Epiphany has tried OKRs for 2 quarters and I’ve compiled the thoughts of some people in our company and what they have learnt from setting company, team and individual OKRs. In this first installation, we have Terence, the founding partner of our company share with us his thoughts!

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One of the biggest challenges that a startup or small company is what I like to call operational-paralysis. There’s always something else to do and you end up spending each and every day chasing deadline after deadline. Before you know it, 6 months have passed and you look back at the goals you’ve set for the year and realise that you’re not closer to achieving any of them.

In large corporations, that’s perfectly fine. Most corporations are finely-tuned machines and if every person in the company just focused on doing what is operational, it would still continue to survive. In a startup or small company however, it is important not to lose track of your larger goals. In such an environment, goals also tend to be moving targets. While the beauty of this is a startup’s ability to react quickly to changes in their market and industry, veering away from your plan unknowingly can also be very dangerous.

With this in mind, we started implementing OKRs this year. We’re still in the very early stages of getting it to work well for us but what I love about it is that it provides us with a tangible way to stay focused and evaluate our goals as the year progresses.

For me, the greatest benefit that OKRs provide us with is clarity. Sometimes, the days just seem to fly by, especially when we are caught up in different projects. After awhile, you start to wonder “Why am I doing this particular thing? What do I hope to accomplish? Why does it matter?” OKRs provide a reminder of what we set out to achieve in the first place and it helps us evaluate whether we need to change what we’re doing.

That being said, implementing OKRs have its own set of challenges. The concept is simple enough but on the ground, it does take significant effort to get everyone on board. At Epiphany, we have a set of Company-wide OKRs for the year.
From this, the teams set Annual Team OKRs which are then broken down quarterly. Every individual then sets their own OKRs for the quarter from this.

Here are some learning points from our experience so far.

1) In a fast-paced environment, things change
In our environment, things change quickly and that affects what we do on a weekly basis. Some projects and initiatives weren’t planned at the beginning of the year or quarter even. This means that the Company and Team Annual OKRs can get outdated really quickly, or some Objectives might become de-prioritised.

This means that have to do a better job of keeping the OKRs aligned and communicated across all members of our team.

2) Key results can be really difficult to identify and quantify

okrcartoonFor some of us, our work is very operational and repetitive while for others, work can be more project or goal-based. This makes it difficult to properly identify the right key results and the accompanying metric. We’ve found that some functions are more easily OKR-ed while others find it more challenging. For example, we do Outbound Prospecting of new clients by sending luke-warm emails (pre-researched). It is easy to track the number of emails sent and meetings arranged. But for our Project Managers, many things are deadline-driven and the Key Results read more like a list of tasks, which we are trying to avoid.

3) OKRs have to be part of your culture and everyone must be involved

The OKR process is not supposed to be top-down where managers meet with you to grill you on why you didn’t achieve your objectives. (Read: KPIs) But without this whip, OKRs become an individual’s responsibility to maintain. You cannot have someone constantly nagging at the team to review and evaluate individual OKRs because to me, that defeats the whole purpose. Instead, everyone needs to discover how OKRs help them contribute to the company’s goals. The motivation to review, score and create new OKRs for the quarter has to be driven by the individual, otherwise it becomes another senseless bureaucratic exercise.

4) It takes time to do well

As with everything else, OKRs take time. It isn’t a magical silver bullet that you can implement in a week and expect powerful results. You need time for everyone to get used to it and benefit. But to make it work, you need to have a strong driver in the company to provide support and that extra push to get everyone involved.

I always tell this story about Basecamp, which we are huge fans of. When we first introduced Basecamp, no one wanted any part of using this new software that they’ve never seen before. It took 4 long months of constant nagging and reminders (“Did you put this on Basecamp? Why don’t you put this on Basecamp?”) before everyone started getting comfortable on Basecamp. Now, it’s something we use everyday.

So if you are looking to implement OKRs for your own team or company, take some time to do it well. Don’t give up just because it doesn’t seem to be working perfectly. Instead, keep at it and before you know it, everyone will be OKR-ing.

Part 1: How to Use Google’s OKRs For Your Company

Part 3: Individual OKRs as Cascaded OKRs of the Company

Part 4: Managing OKRs in a Quarter with Moving Targets

How to Use Google’s OKRs For Your Company

okrWhether you own a company of 10 employees or a corporation of thousands of employees,  there is always 1 key issue that top management has to contend with. How are you able to organise and execute the goals that your company has set out to fulfil? There are many organisations that adopt different types of frameworks. Many organisations have also steered themselves in the direction of Google’s Objective and Key Results (OKRs) methodology. OKRs were first invented and used at Intel, and then made popular by Google’s VC John Doerr in 1999. Since its induction, it has been used at Google through the years even as the company continues to grow to more than 40,000 employees.

What is OKR?

The OKR methodology is a process and method to qualify and quantify what you are working on. It helps you to understand how well you are doing towards these goals while periodically reviewing whether these goals have been met. However, in dealing with OKRs, you must realise that they are not meant to measure performance, but to provide a process to keep everyone in the company aligned.
The top management of the company will first set the company’s Objectives and Key Results. They are usually set once every quarter. Each OKR has 1 Objective and 3 Key Results. Here are some features of OKRs:

 

THE OBJECTIVE
  • It is ambitious and you should be slightly uncertain that you can deliver on the objective.
  • It is a tad uncomfortable, otherwise you are not thinking big enough

KEY RESULTS

  • They make the objective achievable.
  • They are quantifiable and measurable.
  • They lead to objective grading. That means that they are outcome-based and not task-based.

Based on company OKRs, we can cascade our objectives from company to department (different teams) and then to the individual level. This could be better illustrated by the diagram below:

okr

By sharing these organisational objectives to your employees, this allows all employees to have a sense of how their individual objectives can contribute towards the company’s goals.

How do you score OKRs? 

  • OKRs are scored from 0 to 1.0 for each Key Result. If there are too many 1.0s, that means that you are setting goals that are too easily attainable.
  • Average your Key Result scores to get a score for your Objective.
  • Average your Objective scores to get an overall grade.
  • Low scores are not indicative of failure, but they allow you to reassess whether something is worth doing and in what way. Ultimately, the process of evaluating the scores and learning from how one could have done better matters more than the scores themselves.

Epiphany tries OKRs 

Our company has started using OKRs since the beginning of the year and it has really helped us see how our every day tasks fit into the bigger scheme of things in the company. We have gone through 2 quarters of OKRs and have learnt alot from the process of setting individual OKRs and taking charge of them. The team will be sharing more of their experience in the coming week. Stay tuned for more!

Meanwhile, here’s a great video by Google Ventures Startup Lab partner Rick Klau on the value of setting OKRs, the key attributes of effective OKRs and how to implement them in your organisation.

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Part 2: 4 Things I’ve Learn from Managing Company Goals with OKRs

Part 3: Individual OKRs as Cascaded OKRs of the Company

Part 4: Managing OKRs in a Quarter with Moving Targets