Your business is more distributed than ever. People are working from home, but you’re often unsure what they are working on in some cases. You try and measure performance, frequently meet to check in on progress, and generally hope that the business stays on track. But as a former boss used to say, “hope is not a strategy.” As a result, you find yourself reacting to the market shifts rather than proactively pushing them, and in this “new normal,” things still feel very uncertain.
Changing Work Cultures
The importance of having strong, dynamic, and purpose-filled work cultures will have ripple effects impacting your customer base and future business performance. Your customers and employees have more leverage than ever. Both groups have options, and can leave at virtually any time. Of course, all this amounts to a tremendous amount of risk for your business, but how can this risk be mitigated?
The short answer is strong alignment.
Whether it’s the right direction or the wrong direction, being aligned to a common strategy, goal, and purpose will either determine success or failure. The good news is that even if you fail, you will fail fast and learn, and that’s okay!. We’re not talking about “bet the business” type failures, but instead working with a sense of urgency to get to a place where the business can continuously learn and thrive.
Adopting the OKR Framework
As a result, many innovative businesses are turning to OKRs (Objectives & Key Results). If you don’t know what OKRs are, you can learn more about them here, but the short explanation is that it’s a scalable strategic goal management framework. Although it’s been around for literally five decades - it’s more popular than ever right now because it clarifies the priorities, improves focus, and most importantly, it aligns the business.
In case you haven’t noticed, the OKR market is on fire right now. Hundreds of millions of dollars of funding have gone into new OKR ventures building software products in the last 18 months. Rightfully so, there’s a tremendous need to help leadership teams and the c-suite connect with the boots on the ground with better visibility and a shared strategic language. By “singing from the same hymn sheet,” businesses can get on the same page faster and optimize the symphony that is your business.
However, many companies adopting OKRs are hoping an extensive software implementation will solve the problem. The reality is, to accomplish this requires more than just technology. The success of these implementations is undoubtedly possible with strong leadership and commitment. Still, the truth is, especially when your company has reached a specific size, continuous adoption, operational scalability, and sustainable adoption rely more heavily on your people and process more than any OKR platform.
Looking Beyond OKR Software
We use so many different tools and products to solve our technical challenges, and the same can go for OKRs. The reality, though, is you can manage OKRs pretty much anywhere. Trello, Wrike, Airtable, Google Sheets, Slack, or even paper are viable options for managing OKRs. In addition to the “non-traditional OKR tools,” there are purpose-built OKR options such as open-source downloads, free trials, and plenty of premium OKR products out there with all the bells and whistles (if you have the budget). However, as a high-tech COO recently explained during a discovery call, “the software is irrelevant because you need cultural adoption which can only come from leadership and continuous training.”
So knowing leadership and training are critical. Instead of asking if your OKR tool can connect to whatever data source, perhaps you should be asking yourself the following questions:
- Are your employees on board and motivated to adopt OKRs?
- Do you have influencers, early adopters, and leaders who can champion the cause?
- Do they even know WHY you are implementing OKRs?
- How do you plan to turn OKR skeptics to convert into champions?
- Where will they learn the basics of the methodology?
- How will you track their progression?
- How do you plan on onboarding new employees?
A straightforward way to answer these questions and solve these problems is with dedicated OKR training. So let’s dig in some more.
Investing in OKR Training
What is dedicated OKR training? It’s when you license courseware and content from an external vendor and distribute it to only your employees. This way, both current and future employees can rapidly get up to speed on the essentials and start putting them to practice almost immediately at scale. Instead of taking one-off courses or hoping your employees learn by osmosis, they are instead provided a set of standardized training to encourage faster application and usage.
Out of all the benefits of scalable and dedicated OKR training, such as consistent onboarding, scalable deployment, and collaborative learning environments, the primary one is undoubtedly rapid alignment.
Instead of rolling OKRs out in fragmented pieces, dedicated OKR training enables you to deploy at scale in a standardized way to align the business around the framework and a common language. Having a shared strategic language across all facets of your business can be a massive competitive advantage because you can make decisions faster, reduce ambiguity, and improve clarity and agility.
The 80/20 Rule of OKRs
OKRs aren’t a silver bullet, and just because you decide to use them doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. However, laying the proper foundation and building on it at scale is where the actual benefits of OKRs become realized and can represent 80% of the battle. Once you get standardized and consistent adoption and buy-in from your team, this is where you can make the other 20% of your OKR program unique to your business.
By agreeing on the bulk of what OKRs are, you can still get further and faster, even if it’s not perfect. From there, you can optimize and make the program your own. So many quirky examples exist within OKRs where it’s not exactly clear what is right vs. wrong, and the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Outcomes vs. output. Stretch OKRs vs. committed. Incentivized vs. not incentivized. And the list goes on. The point is, if you are having these discussions and trying to make it work best for your business, that means you are making progress, learning, and working towards a better future.
Get Started Now
Interested in learning how Krezzo can rapidly deploy engaging OKR training experiences at scale? Schedule time with us today and book a tour of our “OKR Knowledge Center,” a robust catalog of courses and content designed to rapidly align businesses behind the OKR framework using highly interactive, collaborative, and engaging learning experiences. Connect with us today to discover more!