The OKR method: precise objectives to know the direction to take as a team
A simple and concrete method to develop your productivity as a team.
Identify the team's priority objectives, and determine the key results to achieve them. Each of these results is associated with a person in charge and a list of actions to be undertaken. In this way, the entire team is involved in the construction of the objectives and everyone knows clearly where they are going and how to get there.
The common board enables to find at a glance all the objectives and key results, and to follow the progress of the actions. The team gains in productivity!
Better teamwork thanks to better objectives management
Reorganize management and make corporate teams more flexible’ was the mantra of former Intel CEO Andy Grove in the 1970s. Grove modelled his view on the MBO (Management by objectives) method, which seeks to optimize project and team management through the setting of specific objectives. To this Grove added the notion of ‘key results’ and come up with the famous OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method.
Up to today OKR remains very popular. Thanks to OKR many companies have achieved great success and some even turned into global giants. Google is a case in point. By the end of the 1990s, Google implemented OKR to improve team productivity. The rest is history!
But the fact that OKR is a team management strategy used by multinational companies like Spotify, Twitter and Netflix doesn’t mean that smaller corporations can’t use it too. Improved teamwork should be the aim of each and every company.
Doing teamwork differently thanks to the OKR Method’s productivity tools
To achieve better teamwork and increased productivity, the OKR project management method relies on two equally strong principles: first, set very ambitious targets and, second, think up success indicators (i.e. results) that are easy to measure. The pursuit of the objectives is key to team building. Measuring results helps identify what works and what doesn’t. Another very important element to keep in mind is that OKR relies on developing trust between team members. It’s not a top-down strategy where managers impose objectives on their employees. For the OKR method to work best, workers must decide for themselves, together with management, what aims they want to achieve. Brainstorming sessions are a great way of setting targets and promoting teamwork. Workers always feel more concerned and motivated with projects managed by team and corporate leaders with members’ participation. Likewise, when projects have been designed with their input right from the start, chances are far greater they’ll give it their all right to the project’s end.
Today corporate and teamwork methods have changed. With the huge growth in home and remote working over the past few years, the OKR method is being reviewed to accommodate remote meetings. How can companies achieve the same and even better teamwork results when workers are no longer present in person? How do they keep home-based employees fully motivated and interested?
Board by Klaxoon is the ideal meeting place for you and your colleagues! It’s hybrid mode is a paragon of simplicity and efficiency. It features an OKR Template that allows you and your team mates to get together for a quick brainstorming session, a project update, to share your progress, or simply check what objectives have been reached. It’s built around an online whiteboard to which you have 24/7 access, not only during meetings. It’s thus an ideal tool for asynchronous meetings too (meaning unscheduled, random meetings when not all members are present).
Do you like this template? Would you like similar ones to manage other types of project also? If so, take a look at our project management templates.
Benefits offered by a well-crafted objectives and results strategy
When a team implements the OKR method the right way, chances are it won’t only benefit their team but the whole company.
It’s a project management method that motivates all involved to leave their comfort zones and get more creative and innovative. Sometimes OKR rules on problem-solving can require a good deal of agility; which works just great with startups, for example.
The OKR method doesn’t help teams to just set more and more ambitious targets. It’s perhaps even better at reminding all of the core purpose of a project, of the need to unify around it, and making all really want to make it work. It’s an objectives management strategy that allows employees to work in teams with a clear, common purpose, which is not frequently the case in companies nowadays. When you know where you’re headed and the way to get to your objectives, things get much more attractive and motivating.
But OKR goes further than just producing stronger commitment and motivation levels in team members. It also helps you stay focused longer. All the time you know what your role is and, in particular, why that role is yours. That’s why it’s so useful that the OKR Method Template Klaxoon offers you here can be used outside of team meetings too. That way the moment you lose your focus, all you do is call up the Board, refresh your memory, and get back on track.
Teamwork with OKR in 4 easy steps
If you don’t know how to start the meeting called to launch the OKR project management method in your company, just remember these two questions at its core: (1) What do we want to achieve?, and (2) How are we going to achieve it?
It’s simple. The first question concerns the O (Objectives) in OKR, and the second the R (Results). Naturally there are a few more questions to ask during your team’s OKR get-togethers. To see what those are, take a look at the OKR template, and invite your colleagues to join in. Teamwork and the OKR method has never been easier. Here are the 4 short steps (and questions) that will get you there:
1) Where are we going?
With a question so wide and broad, the answers have to be ambitious. Which is exactly what the OKR method wants. The idea is for every participant in the first brainstorming session to get a say in where the project or the company goes in the future. All ideas are welcome. Nothing ruled out. Nothing too big or too crazy. Pushing the limits of our comfort zones is precisely what OKR aims to achieve. If you wish, use a timer, and let everyone express the objectives he/she fancies. Then together you weigh all the suggestions. It is vital that everyone get a chance to contribute his/her ideas prior to the team settling on specific objectives. That ensures all feel included, part and parcel of the outcome. This is true cooperation, real teamwork!
2) How do we get there?
Once you have agreed on 2 or 3 main objectives, it’s time to discuss the ways of getting there. To do so, start a second round of individual members bouncing their ideas off the team, on the Board. Again each gets to speak freely, in whatever way he/she prefers (text, picture or even drawings). From these contributions you build a strategy designed to achieve the objectives, which is so vital to the success of OKR.
3) How do we know when we’ve achieved our objectives?
If one fails to put in place an objectives management plan, soon the objectives might start looking unfeasible. Which would risks discouraging even the most committed team members. To avoid that pitfall, in a third round members move to numerically quantify key results. Care should be taken that it’s possible to measure the key results. This means you have to vague superlatives like “become the best in the industry”. A better solution would for example be to set specific sales targets. Bear in mind that the key results must be hard to achieve! As stated above, one of the main aims is to get all team members to quit their comfort zones. So, never set the bar too low. If you do, some members might not be challenged enough to achieve his/her full potential. On the other hand, to ensure that the team works together on the project and all members remain motivated, the key results should still be attainable (to a level of at least 70%).
4) Who does what?
The last step is to move to the part project managers know so well, creating a To Do List. Here you specify what each team member does and with what resources (human, financial, etc.). As in the other rounds, here all ideas are welcome. Be flexible and even innovative in defining the team’s make-up and responsibilities. Good teamwork unleashes collective forces; another reason why the objectives must be chosen together. If you get that right, every member will end up feeling like the important and valued cog in the wheel that he/she is, right down to step 4 and thereafter.
To ensure optimum teamwork, measure your key results regularly
You don’t build good teamwork with OKR in just one meeting. A project management strategy requires regular follow-up. Usually follow-up meetings take place every 1 to 3 months, but in some startups the objectives achievement cycle might be much shorter (3 to 6 weeks). It all depends on the scope of your project and the objectives you defined.
While it’s important to follow-up regularly, don’t get discouraged when the team fails to reach the objectives fully. The OKR method defines success as having achieved 70% of your objectives. When you reach 70%, you raise the bar again, set new targets. Conversely, if the team fails to reach 70%, don’t give up, identify the problems, solve them, and strive once more to reach your objectives.
Bouncing back from failure to meet OKR objectives
Many things could contribute to teams missing the mark set in their objectives. Sometimes it might truly indicate that the project has failed. But not always. In fact, very often you could still achieve success by reviewing the way in which OKR was implemented initially, or finetune the process, adjust it to your company, try again, and still come out winning with far better key results.
A mistake commonly made is not to define overly ambitious objectives but too many objectives. The OKR method was designed to make companies and employees hungrier for success. Hungrier not in terms of quantity, but in terms of the quality objectives. The best is to put in place an objectives management plan with just a few objectives: small in number, huge in ambition.
Another mistake sometimes made with OKR involves the timeframes teams set. Flexibility and adjustability are key. Should you need to shorten the deadlines to meet objectives, or overhaul the objectives themselves when you realize they don’t work, give yourself the leeway to do so.
Use Klaxoon’s OKR Template to challenge your teams to up their productivity! It works great both for synchronous and asynchronous meetings. Set yourself challenging objectives that are easy to measure. And then get together regularly to measure the outcomes against the key results. Good luck!