How OKRs help teamwork lead to success

Ever dream of taking a struggling sporting programme, setting it an outrageously difficult goal and then by navigating from one achievable milestone to the next drive a path to ultimate success?

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) have been used in world-leading businesses such as Intel and Google for some years now but the move into sport has been surprisingly slow given professional sport’s never-ending search for marginal gains when actually the big picture is where attention is needed most.

The moon shot goal

OKRs first establish a business’s long-term and often seemingly out of reach ‘moon-shot’ goal as determined by its board or founder. This is then broken down into annual and quarterly objectives which are assigned to accountable groups or individuals to carefully establish and set targets for quantifiable key results. The key results are achieved via a series of tasks all aligned with the company’s route-map to its ultimate destination. Subsequently, these results are regularly monitored through the OKR process (having ditched those activities that don’t contribute) ensuring the energy, resources and talent of the whole company is now pulling in the same direction.

OKR and sport

OKR and sport seem to be made for one another! Let’s say your team sets itself a three-year goal of a top-four finish; OKR methodology would challenge this and set the outrageous goal of winning the league in question.

  • ‘Moon-shot’ established, what next? Well let’s not look too far ahead; just the next twelve months and set a realistic but stretching goal for the year, say a top half finish. A win rate at home of 60% and 35% away should do it. And what might that look like this quarter and next?
  • What will our strategically aligned team of attack and defence coaches set as their own objectives and set of key results which will help us attain the Q1 goal?
  • What statistics can the analyst provide; not just by looking at our team but at the opposition, the referee etc. and that we can set stretchy targets for?
  • How can our ground staff contribute, what are we doing to quantifiably improve on our diet, gym attendance and work out targets? And what objectives and key results can we set for the team members themselves to improve skill sets and outcomes both as individuals and as units on the field or court?

Many more sub-objectives will spring to mind but each one should be linked to the common goal, be visible and measurable so there is objective accountability.

Sound complicated? Well, it may be on first sight, but any team, in business or sport just hoping for success with no aligned and visible plan at best will see a patchy performance, underachievement and frustration. With no milestones being set nor met there is no sense of progress, there will be merely drift and lack of direction.

It’s all about teamwork…

The importance of teamwork above all else in sport is self-evident; it’s why they are called team sports and why we identify with them so strongly. In business, strong teams are just as important, and a common goal, a clear plan and shared feedback equally critical to a successful outcome.

Does your business or sporting club start out with the best intentions but stumble through execution and disjointed team members pulling in opposite directions? Call us for a free 1-hour consultation and we share some of our experiences with you and who knows OKR’s maybe your route to the top!


MR 12.08.18