A good start is half the battle

There is no doubt that OKRs have crossed the chasm since the launch of John Doerr’s book, Measure What Matters. It is an inspiring read, but it is not an OKR guidebook.

Many of the enquiries and referrals we receive are from frustrated business leaders who have read the book and then tried and failed to implement OKRs.

There are many reasons why this happens. The common ones we’ve encountered include:

  • Setting far too many objectives from the outset
  • Introducing OKRs across the organisation too quickly
  • Converting everything the business is already doing into an OKR
  • Creating objectives that are dull and uninspiring
  • Mixing up tasks with objectives and key results
  • Outside of the executive team, nobody understands why OKRs are important

So how can you avoid these common pitfalls?

‘A good start is half the battle’ – Plato.

Start small and remember the mantra, to ‘nail It before you scale it’.

Just by adding a few milestones to an existing task doesn’t turn it into a key result. OKRs are about change. What will you have to do differently to achieve your goals? Making the distinction between what you are doing already, and what changes you need to make, will help you avoid mixing business-as-usual (BaU) activities with your OKRs

Get some help from specialist coaches who have experience in implementing OKRs successfully. OKRs are not a skill you can learn on a 2-day training course. It takes time and effort, just like learning to play the piano. Think OKR coaching, not OKR training.

Make sure you can communicate why the organisation is looking at OKRs and why they are doing it now. OKRs need to be positioned correctly from the outset and driven with passion and enthusiasm. You have to start your OKR journey well. This will help foster a culture that is open, honest and driven by a common purpose.