OKR

What CFR (Conversations, Feedback, Recognition) really is about

How Annual OKRs prevent you from focusing on what matters most for your business

2nd May 2019 · 5 min read

What CFR Really Is About

For a lot of people these days, Measure What Matters by John Doerr is their first introduction to OKR (Objectives and Key Results). It’s a good book — though there are a couple of things that Measure What Matters got entirely wrong.

In his book, John Doerr suggests that OKR should be combined with CFR:

  • Conversations: an authentic, richly textured exchange between manager and contributor, aimed at driving performance.
  • Feedback: bidirectional or networked communication among peers to evaluate progress and guide future improvement.
  • Recognition: expressions of appreciation to deserving individuals for contributions of all sizes.

What’s great about CFR

As John Doerr explains in his book, CFR is a “delivery system” for your OKRs. In other words, it helps you turn your goals into actual results. This is also what’s so good about CFR: it emphasizes that achieving success with OKR takes a lot more than simply setting and tracking your Objectives & Key Results.

The problem with CFR

What’s not so great about Doerr’s approach is that it dictates what you need to do to make sure you will accomplish your goals. It forces you to use the tools Conversations, Feedback and Recognition — but what if these don’t work for your organization and culture? If you’ve read The Culture Map, you know how big the differences between cultures can be 😄.

Cfr Measure What Matters

Another problem with CFR is that it conflates the message and the method of delivery. Feedback has a purpose by itself, but a conversation is just one way to deliver such content.

I prefer to work with a model that explains how to ensure you will accomplish your goals and give organizations the freedom to figure out the what themselves. Every organization and culture is different, what works in the US might not work in Europe. As with OKR, there is no one size fits all.

Cfr Perdoo

Involve, Review, Recognize

Instead of talking about Conversations, Feedback and Recognition, I prefer to talk about Involve, Review, Recognize. If you Involve your team when setting goals, if you Review your goals regularly, and if you Recognize deserving individuals for their contributions, nothing stands in your way to consistently achieve the goals that matter most to you.

Involve, Review, Recognize

IRR is a model that brings together your goals and the people working on those goals.

Let’s have a closer look at each component.

Involve

Goals don’t achieve themselves. They often require discipline and hard work. For businesses, realizing goals typically requires different people to work on them. To make sure those people understand a goal, and to make sure they are motivated to work on it, you need to involve them during the creation process.

(Of course you can’t involve everyone in every Goal, which is why it’s so essential to explain for each OKR why it is important and urgent, and for each KPI, the reason why it is a KPI. This enables the people that weren’t involved, such as employees from other departments or future hires, to understand what’s going on within the organization and what each other’s priorities are. To make this easy for you and to standardize this practice across your organization, we’ve added Standardized Templates.)

Involvement is not just important in the creation stage, it stays important throughout the quarter. You need to keep your manager and your co-workers in the loop on how your OKRs are coming along, which is why frequent progress updates are so important. In Perdoo, you can add a note to every progress update, which you can use to provide appropriate context to your colleagues, all you need to do is @-mention someone to loop them into a conversation.

@ Mentions

Review

If you care about the goals you’ve created, you want to make sure your team is doing everything it can to achieve them. Where progress updates can happen at any point in a week, you need to regularly review progress and statuses to make sure everything and everyone is on track.

A review can happen at different moments and in different meetings. I’ll highlight the two most popular ones: 1:1’s and all-hands meetings.

1:1
A manager probably wants to have a look at (the progress of) the goals that her or his direct reports are responsible for. This will help keep your direct reports on track and allows them to raise any issues early in the process.

A 1:1 could be a great place to do that. In Perdoo you can bookmark your direct reports for easy access, and on each Individual you’ll have a complete overview of all the OKRs and Initiatives that person is involved in. We find it important to give you easy access to this information, though we believe such 1:1 should happen in-person since a good and effective 1:1 is about more than just goals and performance.

If needed, goal-related comments can be added to Perdoo through our Commenting feature. In Perdoo, you can comment on Objectives, Key Results, Initiatives and KPIs.

The all-hands meeting
To boost transparency and accountability, I strongly recommend you to also have a regular all-hands meeting where every Team Lead gives a quick update on the goals. At Perdoo, we have this meeting at the beginning of each month (download a copy of our own Goals System, to see how we approach this all-hands meeting).

The Team Pages in Perdoo bring together KPIs and OKRs so you have a complete overview of each team’s performance. They also have a review-feature (top-right), so you can easily see how progress has evolved since the last all-hands meeting. And we show you the Status for each Key Result so you can see what is on track and what needs attention. All in all, the Perdoo Team Pages give you a full update for each team with the blink of an eye.

Review Feature In Perdoo

Recognize

If you care about your employees, and if you care about being a great place to work, you also want to make sure that your people get the recognition they deserve.

Recognition can easily be embedded in existing processes. For instance, give people recognition when you’re reviewing their goals in either a 1:1 or all-hands meeting. You can also give people ad hoc recognition, for instance by replying to a progress update directly on Perdoo or through our Slack integration.

Recognition

Conclusion

In his book Measure What Matters, John Doerr touched upon something very important: to achieve your OKRs you need to do a lot more than merely setting and tracking your goals. However, his model CFR (Conversations, Feedback and Recognition) has some snags and fails to explain how to make this happen. It only dictates what, in his opinion, you need to do, but his suggestions may not work for every organization and culture (as with OKR, there is no one size fits all).

At Perdoo, we’ve taken Doerr’s approach and further developed it. Hopefully, our model gives you a thorough and complete picture of how to ensure the accomplishment of your OKRs, and gives you enough suggestions for what you could do to make this happen.

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