35 min read

[Podcast] Driving OKR Sustainability with Aaron Velek

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Aaron Velek from Silicon Valley Bank joins the Krezzo Podcast and shares hands-on experience around how to create sustainable OKR implementation and management. Give it a listen to learn how you can improve your OKR journey today.


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Podcast Transcript

KJ [00:00:13]

 You're an OKR advocate, enthusiast, God-sent evangelist, zealot. I don't know how many synonyms I can come up with, but basically you, you believe in them. I'd love to hear, you know, what, what got you into them? How did it all start, and why do you keep, keep coming back to them?


[00:00:34] Aaron V

Yeah, Yeah. Why do I keep coming back to the well? Yeah.


[00:00:38] KJ 



[00:00:40] Aaron V

No, that's awesome. Um, so let's see, probably, I don't know, four years ago or so. Four or five years ago, I took on a role to be, uh, the director of the strategy management office at a former company. And my first week I was handed a 200 slide deck of the company's strategy and was told, here you go, like, go execute.



[00:01:06] KJ

I'd say everyone loved looking at that, that slide deck. Yeah. It was a real popular one. a little, whip it out on a Thursday night down the bar and just, just chat about it and.


[00:01:18] Aaron V

Yeah. Yeah. I don't know if anybody actually read through the whole thing or not, but, um, so, you know, with having a project management background, I immediately started thinking, um, you know, new, somewhat newer to this strategy aim, there has to be some sort of framework or methodology. Similar to project management, you know, where we have Waterfall and Agile and some other frameworks. It has to be something out there. So, started researching and came across, you know, balance scorecards, Hoshin Kanri and some other things, and then just happened upon OKRs and, um, really just, I mean, became instantly passionate about it, you know, just the, the simplicity of it. Um and then the, you know, key benefits around transparency, accountability, visibility, um, alignment, Right. Vertical and horizontal. So it, it just really made sense and it was, it's um, I think it's an easy sell. Mm-hmm. to, to get companies to buy in on it because of its simplicity, but then taking it from there and actually making it happen is like something completely different.


[00:02:26] KJ

Right. All right. I was wondering where you were going there. So easy to sell. I mean, man. No, it's a tough sell, but you're right. You're right. I know where you're headed, which is our real topic for today is you. You can have initial fun and success and, um, en engagement and enthusiasm for adopting a new framework, but we're talking about how do you sustain it, how do you keep it, um, alive and thriving for mm-hmm for long into the future? So.


[00:02:59] Aaron V

Yeah, absolutely. And it, it, it, you know, it takes a lot of work and, and a lot of effort to get it to a place that's sustainable, you know, And, and I think that's kind of the holy grail, right? You want to get it to that, that that's, you know, uh, place of the maturity curve where teams are highly functioning. Um, everything is going well, clicking, and then you get to a point where you're really just optimizing, right? Um, and so you always want to be obviously continuously improving. It's not something I think you could ever just, um, walk away from and say, All right, your organization. You know, what's, what's next? I think there's always, definitely always work to be done.


[00:03:41] KJ

Do you think there are many companies out there to that get to that stage?


[00:03:46] Aaron V

I don't know. You know, I, I, I imagine there are, um, I haven't, um, I haven't been exposed to any yet that are, that are really just high flying. Right. Uh, I'm sure there are. I've, I'm, I've read about, you know, some that, that, you know, say they are mm-hmm. . Um, but, but without being, In the mix. You never know. Yeah, yeah. You know, and, and, um, so yeah.


[00:04:09] KJ

That's a good answer. That's an answer informed by your experience as an OKR program manager. You know, maybe you could tell us a quick highlight of, from that job first discovering the OKR as to what, what you're doing now and what it's been like.


[00:04:28] Aaron V

Yeah, I mean, it, you know, it's, it's been. Lessons learned, um, along the way. And so I think some of the biggest things that I've, I've learned are, you know, number one, it's like I said earlier, it's not a flip to switch process. It's realizing that it's a journey and, and you know, all teams take time and they're on their own maturity journey, even within the org itself. That's on a journey. Each team is on their own journey and just getting everybody to understand that right, and, and setting expectations and milestones that those teams need to hit each year to just continue on that upward trajectory. I think that's, you know, one of the biggest lessons. Um, another one is, is leaders buying in.


[00:05:11] Aaron V

Like I said earlier, I think it's, I think the framework itself can be an easy sell because it's easy to understand and comprehend and, and it's simp the simplicity of it, right? It's not, you're not layering on this huge new process where it shouldn't be, um, but it's after the fact. You, it's that consistent role modeling and messaging from the executives and the leaders, hey, this is, we are trans, you know, transforming to this, this new framework, and this is how we're gonna move forward, right? If that's not happening, then you're gonna definitely run out of steam.


[00:05:46] KJ

Yeah. Yeah. And that's kind of that, that's certainly one of the things to keep in mind when you're adopting this to people who are trying to try this for the first time and, you know, making that big decision to adopt it. It's often, I, I experience it very similar to like, you know, Christmas morning or buying a new car, or signing a new deal with someone. The peak of happiness, excitement and dopamine is When you say, Yeah, let's do it. I'm bought in, we're all bought in. We wanna change, we wanna do things differently and be less complacent and, you know, move this company forward towards its dedicated mission. And then, suddenly there's this great in, uh influx of resources. Perhaps they hire, you know, Typically you go out and buy software. A lot of companies just go straight to buying an okay OKR software. Let's get the best one on the market. Let's get some consultants in here, whatever. And then it's, talk to me about what happens after that, typically, and, and, and where. Yeah. Talk to me about the problem of why it runs out of steam or how it runs out of steam.


[00:07:06] Aaron V

Yeah, I think it's, it's definitely one of those processes that you, you don't want to have to do over you, you don't wanna have to reset, like obviously you can, but it's, it's something that you really want to carefully think through and really have that change management, um, mindset as well, right? What is the downstream impact of all these things we're doing to our employees and how's that gonna, how is that going to affect them? Right? So we've got these, these new meetings. We've got these training. Oh, by the way, we've also got this whole new software that they need to add to their entire, Uh, you know, stack that they've got going on, right?


[00:07:45] Aaron V

Um, and so just being cognizant of people's time, effort and, and really getting them to adopt what you're, what you're trying to do. And so I think, you know, it's the approach that I've taken and found success in is really just having a light touch as much as possible in the beginning. You know, being cognizant of people's trying to make things, um, somewhat self-service right, But still offering that, you know, standard of practice, those guidelines of this is what's expected, this is how we're going to execute, and making it as easy and and simple as possible.


[00:08:24] KJ

Yeah. Yeah. So, and, and that's absolutely it. Like, um, what, what else can sort of OKR leaders, operations leaders, you know, chiefs of staff, people who are responsible for operationalizing this framework. Do first thing, as you're saying, keep it light. Touch, keep it frequent, but keep it life. Don't burden people with a whole, you know, big set of change. Gradually introduce the change. What else can they do?


[00:08:57] Aaron V

I think that, um, you know, like I mentioned earlier, role modeling and, and like you said, also frequency of, of discussion. So it really has to be, So my thought is that OKRs shouldn't be something that you schedule separate, right? Like it shouldn't be a, hey, today we're gonna talk about just OKRs,


[00:09:16] KJ



[00:09:17] Aaron V

It should already be somehow embedded into your team meeting, even if it's just an, uh, a point on the agenda, right? It should be a topic and then it, it, it should be frequently from quarterly. It should go to monthly, weekly, and then leaders should be talking about it in their one on ones.


[00:09:35] KJ

Yeah, that's an interesting tip out there, actually, like to incorporate it immediately into, uh, your, your regular schedule programming, you know, not make it this separate thing. I think the making it a separate event, you know, brings with it complexities and probably resistance, you know, cuz it's like, oh, I have this whole separate session to talk about this whole separate thing. whether it's like, you know, we're already here, we're already having a discussion about these topics. Last five minutes, let's pull up this OKR let's, you know, talk about, talk about it, see if it's relevant still, see how we're progressing. You know, those little. I always think it's very like reps, you know, in the gym or something, you gotta just get Yeah. Frequency reps of talking about it, you know?


[00:10:28] Aaron V

Right. Yeah. And I guess to, to stay on that same analogy, right? It's a new muscle.


[00:10:32] KJ



[00:10:33] Aaron V

And so you've got to, you've gotta con, you know, continue flexing it and you've gotta, you know, embed it into your operating rhythm and then it just becomes part of what you do. Right. If, like you said, if you keep it separate, then it's like you're adding a whole nother layer of you know, work and effort and process, and people are just, you know, I think ever since, um, Covid, you know, everybody's been working from home and they think it's great, but then you see a lot of, um, you know a lot of research that's been done about people feeling overworked at the same time. Right. Because they're at home and they're like, Yeah, I'll just, why not? And I'll just continue working and then mm-hmm. , you know, it's just important to be mindful of that. You know when, whether it's OKRs or any new thing that you're trying to introduce at your company.


[00:11:19] KJ

Yeah. And now what is your perspective, um, uh, you know, initial OKR, if I'm, if this is my first time around with an OKR implementation, or perhaps even a subsequent time, let's say, but you know, you're kind of on a blank slate. What is. Preferred or recommendations as regards to OKR software? Do you see it as being something that must be an essential ingredient from the beginning or where do you see it come into the, the timeline?


[00:11:56] Aaron V

I think it depends on the complexity of the organization. I think if you have a, an organization that's very tight knit and, and streamline, I think you could get away with, you know, PowerPoint or Excel for a little bit, and just getting that, just learning the process, right. Just getting the fundamentals down. Mm-hmm. learning the language and then moving to a software that provides all those benefits, right? Like that holistic visibility into your entire OKR structure, right?. Being able to see what all the other teams are working on in a, in an instant rather than pulling up PowerPoint or Excel. Um, you know, being able to see updates of everything is powerful. And then I think, you know, one of the other biggest things is having those integrations. So again, if going back to trying to make this as easy as possible on people, so if they're working in another system that you know, their work management system, this is where all their work is done.

[00:12:54] Aaron

If you're able to integrate that with the software, with the OKR software, and as their work gets complete, it automatically updates their, their key results. I mean, that's, that's a win all day, right? And so I'm a big advocate for software, but I think that it's, um, it's not something that, uh, organizations should just pick one dive in and, and just do it right. I think they need to pick the software that best matches their company, their organization, and you know, also their tools that they, that they currently use. Yeah.


[00:13:29] KJ

And it seems like you then think OKR software, There's a time and a place, but to achieve any sort of OKR sustainability, which is our topic for today, which inherently describes a long term element of sustainability, this software is, is needed.


[00:13:50] Aaron V

Yeah, absolutely. I, I think to, to really hit that high peak of maturity, you'll have to have some, some sort of software that really, um, You know, helps bring everything together. Yeah. Into one place. Um, even if it links to your other systems, it's all it, you know, you have a source of truth. You have a place where all the OKRs are, um, and that's where you, you manage it.


[00:14:12] KJ

Hmm. Interesting. Now let's keep moving through this maturity. I like the word maturity and journey coming into this. Um, we're not thinking of short term initial implementation. Let's move on. You've gained some momentum with OKRs. It's been a year, two years, you've had some important wins. You've gotten the CEO on board who was originally a bit resistant. You've gotten the product team, you know, on board, and you've, you've, you've started to see some great movement. What do you recommend for companies out there who are, they've hit a certain level, maybe the next phase from the initial maturity, the, the adolescence of your implementation. What, what do you recommend from there to get to that, that final peak?


[00:15:09] Aaron V

Yeah, I think that it's important to, to really have foundational building blocks in place that's able to support the whole program. Great. Right, And I think that, you know, one of those is, is having a really solidly built knowledge center. So you have all of your OKR collateral, your training job aids, anything OKRs at your company is in one.


[00:15:32] Aaron V

So for us at, at, um, svb, we've, you know, we use SharePoint, so I built out a SharePoint site and it's, that's where everything lives, right? All of our standards of practice, training documents, it's there. I think that's important because, If it, if people, um, don't know where it's at, that something they're looking for, then they're just gonna start searching in other places and fill in the gaps, right? So we wanna, we wanna fill those gaps and have, have all of our resources in one place. Um, another thing is, is to have program governance. So I, I'm a firm believer in being able to, at some point, start layering in that governance. And making sure that, you know, teams are following the process that you set out, right? Um, making sure that the OKRs are working for people as much as, you know, they're working for that, you know, working through that new process. And then also having those health metrics, right? Making sure that you're, you know, you're tracking those best practice KPIs around OKRs, right? Let's say that you want to 70%, uh, aspirational and 30% committed OKRs. Right? Holistically. Well, that's a good KPI to track because you wanna make sure that you are, you are stretching, right? You're re you're doing those moonshot type Q results. Um, and not doing everything is committed, right? And, and potentially sandbagging, um, just, you know, as an example for a KPI.


[00:17:03] KJ

Right. Well, this is, this is really great. So, but we're really getting into detail here. Let's take a quick step back. I want to come back to each one of these, but what you're, what you're saying really from a higher level is there's foundational building blocks to achieve a level of sustainability with your OKRs, where the teams are high functioning in alignment and you're seeing huge return on investments from the adoption of this framework. But you gotta get there gradually. And the first step is, as we talked about, introducing the concepts, frequency of communication, and then having a knowledge center. So when you say a knowledge center, Describe to me in more detail what, what is the, what is the knowledge center? How can someone get that block completed and move on?


[00:17:57] Aaron V

Yeah, sure. So, you know, for us, and, and I don't think it's something that's ever completed, I think it's something that we're always adding to, we're always tweaking. Um, but, you know, having a kind of a PMO background, that's just where my brain goes, right? When you roll something out or you're doing something new to just centralize all of the, you know, go-to type documents and training. And so for us, you know, it's, it's um, any type of, you know, we have a, a FAQ page, right? For simple things that, but the valid questions that come up, what's the difference between OKRs and goals, right? What's the difference between OKRs and KPIs? And that's different for every company because each company has their own definition of what a KPI is or what a goal is, right?

So it's important to. You know, this is definitely a lesson learned early on to define that and have that ready to address, because that's gonna be asked by every single team. Yeah. Um, and, and so for us that's, you know, definitely was, was one of the first things that we needed to do that, that first building block for the foundation.


[00:19:03] KJ

Yeah. I couldn't agree more. The, the importance and consideration you have to give into the terminology. It, it, it, it's crazy how. Um, how confusing it is. I'm, I'm really looking at it as, because I've been, again, like as long as you've been into this stuff for years and, uh, I've seen a real difference in almost the online world of where we get our content in. It's almost similar to like taxation or law. It's become so deeply talked about there is of such a depth in volume of content that it's hard to decipher what terms mean, what terms are true, what benefits are true. Like it's hard to understand the sort of concept of goal management as a, as a whole. And, uh, it's just been highly researched by psychologists and neurologists and so much depth to it that it's really hard for just the individual person on the front line who just needs to know the basics to know what it is, and so you're dead right in setting up, you know, knowledge center. And Kreo has one too. You know, we, we was one of the first things we wanted to share with people. So we have our alignment center that's, that's available at all, anywhere you go. ? Yeah. Nice plug. Yeah. Oh, it's gonna be shameless plugs here throughout this uh, session, but, okay, so that's great. That's a look Fundamental building block program governance. If I understood correctly, you're kind of referring to the principle of almost having you know, people share their understanding with others and it, it, it governs everyone, governs themselves almost. It's almost like you're policing yourselves, um, as an organization, um, because of, you know, you're sort of sharing knowledge with one another that's, that's all the same. Is that kind of, I'm not articulating it right? Is that on the lines of it?


[00:21:21] Aaron V

Well, for us it's a little more, I'm taking a little more centralized approach, so I'm trying to, you know, still being early on in our journey, adopting OKRs and our, our, our software, um, it's important that we track adoption, right?

So we're really, we're in the beginning. So we really need to make sure that teams are teams and leaders are adopting OKRs. And how do you, That's fine.


[00:21:43] KJ: Sorry. Sorry to interrupt. How do you define adoption?


[00:21:47] Aaron V

Um, so, you know, in, in the beginning it's going to be, you know, how frequently teams are, are meeting and talking about OKRs. Okay? Right. Um, you know, we are also looking at the quality of OKRs being written.


[00:22:03] KJ

Right. So you have a, you kind of define quality of what makes good okr, what makes poor one, and then sort of a scoring mechanism to determine, you know,


[00:22:13] Aaron V

Right. Yeah. We're doing a, a, I mean, we have so many OKRs right now, but we're, we do a, a sampling and, and we check the quality. But we're also looking at making sure that leaders are bought in. Right. Do they feel that OKRs are producing the, the impact that we set out. so that's, you know, something else. And this, these, you know, we frequently engage and survey our, our teams and leaders to get this information. And so we track that, and then we also track the, um, you know, engagement of the teams, like I said, and then the adoption of the software.


[00:22:50] KJ

Great. Okay. And then that's really the, the, the governance of the, the program then, and then, right?


[00:22:58] Aaron

Yeah. And then we do, we have scorecards, so we look at all the teams and how they sit, like are their OKRs up to date? Right? Yeah. And then we look at the ratio of, of aspirational versus committ. How many OKRs do they have? Um, you know, things like that.


[00:23:16] KJ

Yeah. Wow. That is a great level of sophistication that I'd imagine a lot of OKR or adopters don't go to, but I mean, you've, you've obviously gotten further along. Is there initial program governance that you would recommend just to start small with something like, Hey, just pick like adoption and nothing else, Or,


[00:23:40] Aaron

Yeah, I mean, just, just measure what you can, that ma that makes the, um, that means the most. Right. So I, I would think that it's frequently, it's the frequency of discussion, right? How frequently are teams looking and talking about OKRs? So I think it, in the beginning you think it's easy. You're like, Okay, we're gonna do this quarterly cadence and we're gonna have a planning, a retro planning, you know, and, and have all these, these big ceremonies. But then you get into it, um, and it's not as easy as you think, right? So I think that, um, it's important to, to really measure the frequency that teams are talking about OKRs.


[00:24:23] KJ

Yeah. Yeah. And also the quality of their conversations as well. Are they having the right conversations?


[00:24:32] Aaron

Yeah, absolutely. Um, just, just to kind of jump back a little bit to like those building blocks.


[00:24:38] KJ



[00:24:39] Aaron

I would say that the second biggest thing that we did, um, after the, the knowledge center was building a, a champion community. Right. You know, realizing that we are trying to, you know, adopt OKRs across, across the whole company and how many people we have to, to reach realize that, hey, we, you know, we can't just go hire a hundred coaches, right?


[00:25:03] Aaron

And so what we did was we, we reached out to the leaders throughout the organization and have them nominate some high potential employees that we could leverage as coaches. And we, we call 'em champions. And so we have this community of champions. And we really lean on them to, to work with the coaches one, or work with the leaders one on one, help facilitate the meetings with the teams, drive towards, uh, best practice and be our mouthpiece, like be the program's mouthpiece for any kind of changes that come down. They've, they've been a, a huge asset in, in our adoption.


[00:25:35] KJ

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, there's, you can't do it without, you know, your early adopters. People who are enthusiastic about, you know, the change and about the framework, you know, helping them and using them to your advantage to evangelize the whole thing.


[00:25:52] Aaron V

Yeah, exactly. Definitely. Yeah.


[00:25:54] KJ

How long did it, was there any. Difficulty in recruitment, recruitment of these?


[00:26:01] Aaron V

Um, um, no. We, we tried to do a really good job, Excuse me, A really good job up front of setting expectations, right? We, we put together a one pager like, Hey, this is what we're expecting from a coach, right? Like 10 hours per quarter per team that they support. This is, this is what we're estimating at this point.


[00:26:22] KJ



[00:26:22] Aaron V

Um, here are the, here are the qualities we're looking for. You know, somebody that's strategically minded, um, organized, comfortable talking at all levels of the organization. Um, and then, you know, gave that to leaders and then had them select individuals. And then we had them certified as coaches. And, you know, they, we meet as a community once a. Just we'll bring in speakers to talk through best practices, share experiences, um, talk through any program updates. Uh, we've got a newsletter and a Microsoft team, so it's, it's coming along. It's, I think it was really an important, uh, One of our most important building blocks that we, we did.


[00:27:03] KJ

Mm, that's interesting. And were, did you see a varying degree of applicants, uh, you know, across the business? Was there, you know, a lot of product people jumping in to help or, you know, was there loads of sales people or no sales people like or any sort of trend and who, who wanted to get involved?


[00:27:25] Aaron V

Yeah, I think it was, it was a lot of people that were really work on the strategy site. So we, you know, I mean it, not necessarily like they're in the strategy department, but they're, they have some role within strategy and planning. Um, but I would say overall it's pretty balanced, um, between the orgs in, in relation to how many teams or how deep that they're using OKRs.


[00:27:50] KJ

Yeah. Yeah. That's good. Now it can be a often a step that makes logical sense, but just again, Runs outta steam. You know, people just say, Oh, it's a good idea. We should have a champion community. And, you know, Bob is interested and then, you know, just Yeah. Yeah. I mean, happens and no one else pays attention.


[00:28:12] Aaron V

Yeah, I mean, it, yeah, definitely happens. I'm not gonna sit here and paint that, you know, we're a hundred percent, you know, and everything's, uh, sunshine and rainbows. But, um, you know, we, you know, we do learn our lessons. You know, I, I talk to. I reached out to another company and they have, uh, you know, very early on when I started doing this and they built a, a coach community and they got a lot of feedback from the coaches that the leaders were leaning on, the coaches to really lead the meetings, right? Mm. And that's not, that's not how it should go. Right? The, the leaders should still help form those objectives and drive where, you know, where that's, where that's going. Mm. And so they, they actually ended up pivoting and getting to a point where the coaches weren't even really in the team meetings anymore.

The teams, you know, eventually picked up OKRs. They could, they could do it. And the coaches were just, they would just meet with the leaders in one-on-one setting. And just work with the leader on, hey, these are best practices. This is how you make a good OKR. And they're just there for support, right? So they kind of pivoted their whole community, and I thought that was a, that was an interesting lesson they learned.


[00:29:24] KJ

Yeah, that is interesting. Like, makes sense. As in initially there would be this dependency on the, the person with the subject matter expertise of Okay. ORs to just. Delegate you lead the meeting, you know? But, um, I think that's, that probably actually is a great example that you've given us of. What towards one of the final steps of OKR sustainability is essentially empowerment. Empowering others to, once they've learned the basics, they have the confidence those coaches relinquishing the, um, the control and saying it's back on you guys like, uh, that's ultimately one of what the company who adopts this, and I'm sure SVB did a too in the beginning was like, we wanna get to that future stage where mm-hmm. , there's not this heavy reliance. It's like we're empowering people to do this, and now they're operating better than ever. Right?


[00:30:26] Aaron V

Absolutely. Yeah. I think that's the, you know, that's the goal. I think if you could get there and teams are just mature, they can do it, you know, then why not? Right? And, and lean, you know, lean a little bit less on those, those coaches.


[00:30:40] KJ

Yeah. And what about to. Chief of staff, COO listening out there, who has been through two, three, maybe even four rounds of OKR implementations and each one has run outta steam. Like what do you say to that person who's probably quite cynical now at this point?


[00:31:03] Aaron V

Right. I, you know, I, I go back to especially chiefs of staff. Really working with the leaders and, and making them understand that, hey, what you say and do matters, and it goes a long way. If you're not messaging this isn't important, then it's not gonna be adopted. If you're not role modeling and doing the things that come, come with OKRs not just saying, Okay, let's do it, and then walking away, like actually doing it. Actually bringing it up in your leadership meetings. Actually looking at the tool that you're using. Unless they're doing that, it's not, it's not gonna work. Cause because if you look at all the things that everybody has to do in their daily job, and then you're adding in this new, this new thing, right? This new shiny object. And if it's not being messaged at the top or by the leaders, um, it's just gonna go away.


[00:32:02] KJ

Yeah. Absolutely. I think you put it great there. Um, that's a, that's a really important and core sort of piece of knowledge to maintain and reinforce with yourself. Um, if you're out there, you know, as an executive team, it's like, like we have to role model this. We have to walk the talk and, you know, got to, And if we can't pay it, the attention it deserves, are we going to expect others?


[00:32:33] Aaron V

Right. Yep.


[00:32:34] KJ

Yeah, so that's, that's great. Um, what else? I mean, I've some questions around some interesting things. I know that you're doing here on LinkedIn as well with your new OKR group.You know, tell everyone about this LinkedIn group because I think it's, it's cool when I saw the invite come in, I need to engage with it more actually here.


[00:32:57] Aaron V

Yeah, you do.

I was looking on, on Reddit and LinkedIn and some other places. I was just trying to find some sort of group that talked about OKRs right in in any capacity. Right. And just like, Hey, I'm facing this problem, do you have any advice? It seemed like everything I came across, it was basically, it might have been started with the best of intentions, but then it turned into people just trying to hock their services.


[00:33:21] KJ: Yeah.


[00:33:22] Aaron V

And there was no value in it. And so I was like, I'm just gonna start one. So I, I started, it's called the OKR Champions Network, and it's just a place for any OKR practitioner to ask questions, share experiences, lessons learned, and, and just help each other, you know, overcome challenges and, and continuously.


[00:33:44] KJ

Yeah, that's great. I mean, the intent, I love the intent and I love the purpose and uh, you're right, it's needed. Cuz anytime I go out there and look, it's just, just categorically, you know, washed out with just tacky sales, you know, squirmy, you know, mentions. Check this out because it's great. It's the next best thing.


[00:34:12] Aaron V

Yeah. Yeah. And kinda like what you mentioned earlier about, um, you know, there's so much written right? There's, everybody's got an opinion on it. So I think it's important to kind of, to sometimes look at where that information's coming from. Right. And is there any sort of an agenda or purpose Yeah. Besides just sharing inform. Right. Yeah. And so it's kind of, it's, you know, OKRs is tough, right? There's no, there's no manifesto. Yeah. Right. There's, you got John Doer's book and then you got some others. Um, and I think you, at the end of the day, you take what works best for the organization you're working in. Right. What makes the most sense?


[00:34:56] KJ

Well, I like that. I like that idea of, that. It's hard to decipher through the, the, the garbage pile, which. You know, pieces of information about this stuff are relevant. There isn't a manifesto, but what you're creating is a community of practitioners. So these are information coming from people who are experiencing it and like maybe. Their experiences. Well, they're definitely gonna be different than yours. They're in a different company with a different culture and all that sort of stuff, But at least Yeah. That's, you're hearing information from other people doing it and not people I don't know who, who are doing it. Yeah. Like not, not even doing it,


[00:35:39] Aaron V

At academics or something.


[00:35:40] KJ

Academics. Right, right. Yeah.


[00:35:42] Aaron V

Yeah. That's what, that's what's cool is that it's, yeah, it's uh, I would say a mixture of people. Running programs or there are coaches, consultants, um, and then there's a number of, you know, different software represented in the group too. I thought that was really interesting. I was kind of looking through that the other day. How many different software companies are on there, but. I think it's,


[00:36:03] KJ

I saw that too, by the way. I,


[00:36:05] Aaron V

Yeah. But you know, I, it, it, I wanted a place where, you know, whoever wants to join can join and ask question or, or give an answer, Right. Based on their experience, just to help.


[00:36:17] KJ

Yeah. I might, I might, I don't, I've looked at it a few times. I'll, uh, I think it's a great idea. I really hope that people listening will just open up a new tab here and check out OKR Champion's Network on LinkedIn. It's great. Um, yeah, that's really cool, man. Um, how have you enjoyed being on the Krezzo Podcast?


[00:36:43] Aaron V

It's been great. You know, I've, uh, just talking about it, right? Like, you can write notes on something like this, but then at the end of the day, you either, I think you either know it or you don't. So, um, and it's good to have, you know, just a conversation around it. And, uh, It's been great. So I'm, I'm really excited to see what Krezzo, you know, puts together as far as software and, and you know, how they are different from everybody else. Right. I think, I think that's important. So I'm excited to see what, what you guys bring to the table.


[00:37:12] KJ

Yeah. You know, I think we're really trying to, um, differentiate by giving the right level of respect to that fundamental block of, of knowledge, you know, knowledge center of, um, OKR education being the forefront because it's, it is just, uh, difficult to productize a management theory or a goal setting, theory and framework, you know?

It's, it's like driving a car. You, you need to learn the theory of the road before you get in the vehicle, you know? Right. So the software can get you there, get you to your destination, but only if you can read the road signs and understand, you know, the, the different indicators, whatever, It's just, So we're trying to incorporate the learning into the product as much as possible so that you can really learn the semantics of this framework while also applying your knowledge in the product.


[00:38:18] Aaron V

Right. So where, I'm curious, where does Krezzo get their knowledge from that you're applying to the product?


[00:38:26] KJ

Yeah. Great. Great question. Um, from people like you, uh, from communities like yours, from, um, geez, I could say from every, everything, like from even competitors, you know, like you can say from books that, that have been written literally, we just, at the very beginning of all this, we like just typed in OKR knowledge or books or anything. And we just got 'em all and consumed them all. And then what I felt, actually that's a great question. What I felt then was I felt it was only one layer of the onion because it's still relatively new, um, you know, framework in the grander scheme of things. So the depth of research you can do on ex people with sharing their experience on OKRs is, is not as, as deep as psychological literature on goal management and that's where, and, and change management. Those are the two areas of sort of psychology and, and literature where we tried to extract insights from and then bring into the product, into our website content.

So it's really, we're trying to go deeper than just one layer of like, this is a, you know, framework we're trying to get down to, like human beings, how they behave and, uh, incorporate that.


[00:40:02] Aaron V

Yeah, I think that's a great, a great strategy, right? Trying to, trying to take that aspect. Um, I'm, I'm curious, So I've seen other software where they, they kind of create their own methodology, right? They've got their own secret sauce, they've got their own buzzwords. Yeah. You know, and. Um, I've got my opinion on that. I'm curious about yours. Is that, is that what Krezzo's like looking at? Or are you guys just trying to be straightforward, this is what it is and this is what you get out of the tool? Yeah.


[00:40:35] KJ

Yeah. I think we're definitely not trying to create a whole new set of jargon, um, because it's, It's already confusing enough, uh, with the, the amount of acronyms and terminology. So, no, we're trying to do the exact opposite, which is purify it down to its simplest form and really, you know, think that the software has its place.

It is, like we said, a core com, a core component of sustainability. Um, but it, it, it again derived from the theory, So really respecting that and, uh, and having an, an intuitive interface. You know, that we've done a lot of product research now at this point, and it's, it's very much the, uh, the most common theme is these OKR softwares I'm using aren't intuitive enough for the, the majority of users. Who, the majority of users using OKR software aren't, they aren't familiar with OKRs. The minority are folks like you who are really enthusiastic in it and manage it, but you know, there's way more people not like you in the company than there are view. Yeah.


[00:41:58] Aaron V

Yeah. It's, it's, it's interesting, you know, um, I have, you know, I've never built a software or anything like that. I think that's, it's pretty fascinating that the psych psychological aspect mm-hmm. that you're taking. Um, I think it's important to, to stay true to, to what you're trying to do. Right. Don't I agree. Don't try to be something that you're not, like, don't make it. . You know, I see a lot of other tools where they try to do 10 different other things, but they're all half baked. Yeah. You know, they're not, they, they might be trying to replace some tool somewhere else so that you, you know, they can drive licensing or whatnot. But you know, just, just do what you're good at. Right. Make that amazing. And I think, I think it'll be a winner.


[00:42:43] KJ

Yeah. That's what I seem to get from you in the past couple of calls we've had is like you're very much an enthusiast of Krezzo and in in our vision of what we can stay true to. You know, you talked about just, just being a part of a company with its software, but with its, you know, its, its vision as well that, that can just be different from what's currently there.


[00:43:09] Aaron V

Mm-hmm. . Absolutely.


[00:43:11] KJ

Yeah. Um, but wait, just before we go back to you for a second on where you get your, um, same question back to you. Like, where do you get your. Education of this stuff. And where do you continuously go to learn more apart from the community that you have people you know?


[00:43:31] Aaron V

Yeah. Um, like you, you know, just reading, um, lessons learned, just real world, real world experience. Um, you know, watching, watching videos, podcasts, speaking to other people that are knowledgeable on the subject like yourself. Um, so yeah, real similar, there's no, like, like I said earlier, there's no manifesto. There's no one way. It's, it's funny, I read this, you read this book, um, Radical, Radical Focus. I'm sure you


[00:43:59] KJ

I have it there.


[00:44:01] Aaron V

It's funny because in the end Christina mentions because this is the second edition, and in the end she goes, Oh, by the way, um, Measure What Matters has came out since my first edition and it counters a lot of the things that I put forth

So it's just, I think the lesson there is just always be reading, right? Yeah. Always be learning. Don't just take a book and be like, This is how we're doing it. Like, of story, right? Yeah. Everything changes, everything pivots, um, just stay in tune with that and I think that's, that's important.


[00:44:33] KJ

Yeah. That certainly evolves. Alright. And, uh, Yeah. Christina, if you're listening, we're we're, uh, we're coming for you next.


[00:44:44] Aaron V

That was good. That was a fantastic book. I loved it. It was good.


[00:44:47] KJ

Loved it too. I loved it too. Um, really concise. It was really unique as well. That ha the first ion, I think I have, you know, in the first half is like a parable or like a


[00:44:58] Aaron V



[00:44:58] KJ

Story and then it, and then it goes. A real concise, you know, like playbook of it all. Um, and, you know, a lot of our stuff in our, in our courses, you know, in, in our, we're building out a lot more content and education around it. You know, it's, we must acknowledge in all seriousness that we're standing on the shoulders of people like her and, uh, to get that. I think as I said, just there, we're trying to just go one level above and go, or one level deeper and go, you know what's even, let's get down to the human motivation of it. You know, how, how I was listening to a good podcast about, um, and a neurologist talking about goal execution, you know, and the diff, and the different neurons and neuro circuits in the brain that trigger when you're trying to achieve a goal. You know, Even then to that level, I think it's really important because then that can inform everything else.


[00:46:00] Aaron V

Yeah, No, that's amazing. Hey, I'd love to, Yeah, I want to, if you could share that podcast. I like to do that.


[00:46:05] KJ

That's a good one. I liked it. Yeah, that was good.

Cool. Well, listen, thank you. Thank you so much for your time. Um, thank you so much for just sharing your experiences, your insight, your enthusiasm for this, um, you know, and your enthusiasm for Krezzo. That's, that's also just huge, hugely beneficial to us that you would give us this, this time and this, um, you know, just good recommendation.


[00:46:40] Aaron V

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you guys are doing great stuff over there, so, like I said, I can't wait to to see what you, you know, come up with and, and, uh, happy to help however I can moving forward.





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