There is no doubt that OKRs have come into the mainstream 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 successfully.
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 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.
We recommend engaging specialist coaches, like AuxinOKR 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. So think OKR coaching before OKR training.
It’s important to consider and communicate why your organisation is looking at OKRs and why now. OKRs must be positioned correctly from the outset then driven with passion and enthusiasm. So it’s essential to start your OKR journey well if you are to achieve the outcomes you need. It’s important to understand that OKRs are a team sport too. From executive to frontline staff, you must foster a sense of ownership across all your teams; this will help develop an open, honest culture driven by a common purpose.