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OKR in the company, or Two tools to advance towards ambitious goals

Natalya Gulchevskaya talks about two tools within the company’s management system for key results and goals (OKR) – visualization, progress meetings; shares personal experience of its implementation
At the first meeting to discuss a strategic session, I often hear from leaders: “Yes, we already had such sessions, set goals, were inspired, and then everything slipped back into routine; we achieved something, but most of what we planned was left on paper. By the way, where is this paper? I can not find”.

For some reason, there is an illusion that a team coach will come now, and even better – a business consultant, set us the right goals, and all will be happy.

Remember the old jinn joke? When the traveler got lost in the desert, he has been walking for several days without food, water, and suddenly finds a lamp. A genie flies out of the lamp and asks:

– What do you want?

The traveler was delighted, says:

– I want to get into an oasis!

“Good,” the Djinn answers, “let’s go to the oasis!”

– No, you did not understand me, I want to quickly get into an oasis!

“Got it,” the Djinn answers, “then we ran!”

To set goals, even with the new fashionable OKR system, is only the beginning of the journey, the start and determination of the final point of arrival. And then you need to go day by day, regularly checking with the goal, adjusting the route, overcoming obstacles, extracting resources and attracting allies. In general, the classic Way of the Hero.

In the OKR system (Objectives and Key Results, management by goals and key results), there are at least two tools that help the Hero to continue moving towards an important big goal and not to go astray in a whirlwind of urgent routine affairs.

What is OKR, you can read in our previous articles, “How to determine the strategic development goals of the company for the year and successfully implement them” and “How to conduct a session of planning goals and key results?”

In short – this is a system of flexible goal-setting for the development of the company.

1. The team identifies priority 1-3 business growth goals (change), with measurable metrics (key results) – for the coming period (quarter or month).

2. The goals are consistent vertically and horizontally (between units and teams).

3. The progress in achieving goals is regularly measured and adjustments are made to activities.

The first tool: visualization and transparency

So, the first OKR tool for ensuring the implementation of goals is a technical one. The goals set should be in full view of all employees. And not only the goals of the company, but also the goals of departments, teams, perhaps even personal goals. Such “transparency” allows, firstly, to coordinate actions, and, secondly, mobilizes – because when the goal and the progress of its achievement are public, there is also a social incentive for making efforts to achieve.

How is it technically possible to ensure visual transparency of goals? It depends on the size of the company, the habits and skills of employees, the capabilities of the office, as well as the implementation phase of OKR.

We distribute the methods of visualization and tracking OKR on two scales – cost and degree of automation.

Stickers

We usually hold sessions on setting quarterly or monthly goals with flip chart sheets and stickers, in the format of team coaching. Therefore, the output will be flip chart sheets – with the company’s OKR, OKR units.

And at first, especially if the company is small, and there is a room where everyone can gather once a week – you can leave the visualization in this format. By the way, even if the goals are then transferred to the computer – posters with OKR on the wall more attract attention, returning the focus from the routine to important goals.

What are the “cons” of such a view:
To see the goals, one must physically come to the room where they hang;
The degree of progress in achieving goals is not visible;
Stickers peel off over time!
Tables

The second stage of automation is tables in a common cloud space. For example, a Google folder with OKR tables that is common to all employees.

In this format, it is easy to keep track of progress by entering current indicators for each key result and comparing with the planned one. By the way, to enhance the visual impact, the results sheets can be printed out and also hung in a common room as, for example, in the photo.

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