Hot off the press: "The State of OKRs - Global Enterprise Report"

The Project Lead OKR Quick Start Guide

Your business executive is excited by the potential of OKRs and has tasked you with delivering a seamless and effective rollout. This quick start guide is for you – it will help you with the first steps in standing up the OKR project and also creating the foundation for effectively embedding OKRs in the Standard Operating Procedures of your business.

Step 1: Determine the Timeline

Create certainty by creating a timeline that is realistic for an organization wide transformation. The kickoff date should be set with consideration of corporate calendar within your organization to achieve maximum alignment. The timeline should also have the key milestone dates for a successful rollout.

Make sure that you start the leadership team early on setting their OKRs as they will want to spend time iterating on them for the first time. To end analysis paralysis, we suggest setting a webinar where these are announced to the company to ensure that there is a drop off date for the finalization of the Leadership Team OKRs and the beginning of the cascade to the downstream teams. Additionally, make sure that you start scheduling the sessions with the downstream teams early on as the later it gets, the more challenging it is to obtain time with each and every team in the organization.

Important questions to consider:

  • What are key strategic days within your organization?
  • What is a good starting date for the implementation?
  • What are the key implementation milestones and dates?
  • When do you start preparing for the next quarter?

Step 2: Scope out the Implementation

OKRs drive the greatest business value when they are implemented across the entire organization. However, when an organization is large (typically above 500 to 1,000 people) we recommend a staged rollout occurs. There are three dimensions to be considered when commencing with a staged rollout:

  • Business Area(s): Select the business units/ functions/ areas which will receive the greatest benefit from adopting OKRs. Generally we find that these are areas which operate in a highly competitive market, are involved with developing new business ideas, taking new business ideas to market and/or are digital in nature.
  • Layer(s): Select how many layers you want to go down the organization. Typically there is a trade-off between going broader (selecting more business areas) and going deeper (selecting to go down additional layers). We normally recommend going width over depth as we find normally that the greatest alignment challenges are across business areas. However, this recommendation can change depending on the business imperative that the leaders are solving for (e.g improving the performance of a specific business unit)
  • Cross Functional Initiatives: Select the strategic initiatives, cross-functional projects and organizational processes that need to be set up as OKRs within the organization (keep in mind that this may be limited based on the business area(s) selected)

Once the business areas, layers and cross functional initiatives have been selected it is important to determine the teams (a team is a leader and set of team members which are driving towards the same set of goals). Determining the teams which need OKRs within the scoped area might seem simple – but in reality it can be a quite challenging task. The priority is to map how people are actually working as teams rather than how this has been previously depicted on organizational charts (e.g. people who work in two teams will also be in two teams when setting OKRs). All teams in the scoped area should have OKRs (consult an OKR expert if you believe a team doesn’t need a set of OKRs.

Important questions to consider:

  • What areas of the business will get OKRs first? Or is it a wall-to-wall implementation?
  • How will group the scoped business areas into teams?
  • How are the leaders and members of each identified team?
  • What is the hierarchy of the teams?

Step 3: Set up an efficient Governance Structure and Infrastructure

Just like your business is enabled by effective leadership, processes and tools, so too should your OKR initiative. This initiative requires that it is governed and properly resourced like every other important project that your company undertakes. Specifically, you need to set up the following for layers of OKR leadership:

Exec Steering TeamCEO, ELT Members
  • Own the OKR rollout metrics and success of the initiative
  • Communicate regularly with the organization on results success
  • Demonstrates the mindset change they expect from the organization
  • Ensures that the OKR Task Force is resourced and removes identified roadblocks
Monthly meeting (review OKR result achievements)
OKR Task ForceELT Owner, Project Team, Select Key Divisional Leads, IT Lead
  • Own the operational success of the rollout including scheduling sessions, coordinating training and addressing FAQ from the organization
  • Communicate OKR program information with the organization and QA of OKRs
  • Also includes members of IT who are responsible for integrations with core systems
Bi-weekly (review OKR adoption and engagement)
OKR CoachesOrganizational Certified Coaches
  • Select members based on skills profile, function and location, certify them in methodology
  • Supplemented with Detecon Coaches while internal OKR capability is achieved
  • On the ground resource for others in the organization to refer to when developing and achieving OKRs
  • ·Recommend 1 certified resource per 50 people
Bi-weekly (+resets to share know-how and schedule)
Super UsersSelected ambassadors in the organization
  • Experts in the OKR platform who are a resource for the organization
  • Recommend 1 super user per 50 people; can be same person as coach
  • Trained in advanced app functionality and acknowledged by ELT for their expertise
Meetings as needed to share know-how/infos

In addition to establishing the right OKR leadership, it is also important to ensure that the right infrastructure exists to enable the organization to efficiently track its performance against the OKRs it sets. However, without the right tool this is incredibly difficult. Select a software platform which enables each and every team to track and visualize progress in real-time, identify overlaps and synergies, and to encourage collaboration. We recommend WorkBoard as the leaders who want to drive strategic alignment across the enterprise, as the app makes it easy to set OKRs, define and align action plans to achieve key results, and to proactively manage to key results.

Important questions to consider:

  • Who are the members of your OKR executive steering committee and project management team?
  • Who are the OKR ambassadors and coaches in your company?
  • What are the success criteria for the OKR project? What benefits are you looking to achieve?
  • When are each of your relevant OKR governance teams meeting?
  • What are your needs and requirements concerning OKR software?

Step 4: Develop the communications plan

Defining the right Leadership Team OKRs is important. However, equally that everyone in the company understands the mindset, methodology and tools needed for OKR success. An OKR implementation which requires continual Leadership Team attention, governance and communication. Once your timeline, governance and infrastructure is set up, a structured communication plan needs to be followed to ensure that the initiative is rollout seamlessly. This communication plan should include frequent and engaging communications which celebrate result achievement and share relevant OKR program information. Additionally, bi-weekly 1:1 meetings are held to ensure horizontal and vertical alignment.

Important questions to consider

  • What can be useful channels for communication?
  • Who is responsible for executing each element of the communication plan?
  • How can you convince skeptics within your company to adopt OKRs?
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