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Pierre Michaels
Pierre
Michaels

Driving results with the OKR methodology

24.01.2019
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One of the things that TTE, and I particularly, have a wealth of experience and expertise in, is setting up and running a PMO (project management office). One of the tools we use at times when setting up a PMO is the OKR methodology, which breaks down business goals into subsidiary objectives and key results to allow the pursuit of these in a strategic and systematic fashion.

OKR stands for “objectives | key results” and originates from Intel and subsequently a host of tech companies (among others, Google, Twitter and Oracle) mostly located in the Silicon Valley.

It is still most commonly found in companies in or near the IT / tech sector. Allegedly, Google used the method to not only grow by ten percent but to grow tenfold due to its focus on a direct business impact and a mindset shift towards outcomes rather than output!

OKR starts at the very top of a company’s goals and breaks these down into objectives, which serve as guideposts for the company’s strategic journey. They thus answer the question: “Where does the company want to go?”. Objectives need to be defined in a qualitative, ambitious, directional and attainable fashion. An example for an objective could be: "Build a rocket that allows manned space-travels to Mars".

Each objective then has up to five key results attached to it; these answer the question: “How does the company (or whatever the relevant executing unit is) know whether we are getting there?”. When defining key results, it is important for these to be measurable, specific relevant, and process-focused. If desired, key results can also have several initiatives attached to them, further specifying what needs to be done to achieve the desired key results. An example for a key result could be: "Build a rocket that allows travels to Mars" (pay attention to the omission of "manned", which could be subsumed under another key result).

Review cycles tend to be of increasing frequency as the objectives are broken down, e.g., objectives are reviewed every quarter and key results are reviewed monthly.

Yet, there exists no prescribed review cycle as a variety of factors comes into play when setting a review cycle. When it comes to executing the OKR-defined goals, OKR uses three tools to ensure continuous progress and learning. These are, firstly, the OKR weekly, a weekly 15 mins meeting on the current status for each objective. Secondly, review meetings at the end of an evaluation cycle are conducted to display and measure progress; and thirdly, after a longer evaluation cycle, a retrospective to systematically gather lessons learned is held.

OKR thus helps in breaking company and business goals down and pursuing these in a strategic and systematic fashion. We at TTE made great experiences with the method and are happy to assist you with our expertise!



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