“As a growth-focused company, we were looking for a way to communicate and live our strategy across the entire organization. However, we felt that the Balanced Scorecard approach did not fit our agile and fast-paced company culture. Then we read about John Doerr's OKR methodology used at Intel, which sounded very promising.”
- Robert Michaelides Jr., COO of Proemion.
By mid-2019 it was clear to Proemion’s management that there were two major challenges that were deeply embedded in how they operate as an organization. These challenges subsequently resulted in a lack of alignment and, thus, the teams were not sufficiently empowered.
The two challenges were:
- Silos across the organization
Teams were operating in silos, which meant that there was poor alignment between the different groups. These silos created a lack of cross-functional collaboration, therefore, limiting the foundation to push the organization forward.
- No means of communicating the organization's strategy and goals
The organization had a vision of what it wanted to achieve. However, they had no means of clearly communicating the organization’s strategy and goals to the rest of the organization. Proemion found that teams and individuals often had little to no understanding of the direction the organization was headed in.
At this point, it was clear that the organization needed a solution to overcome these hurdles. And just then, by chance, Robert Michaelides Jr., the COO of Proemion, stumbled upon the OKR framework and Perdoo (an aha! moment). The two (framework & tool) presented themselves as the perfect combination to set up a company’s strategy and create alignment throughout the organization. Robert mentions:
“We knew from the start that using sticky notes or Excel sheets would not scale across the entire organization. Hence, we looked for an OKR software where each employee could easily access and manage all relevant goals. Perdoo convinced us through its ease-of-use and powerful KPI functionality.”
By July 2019, the unanimous decision was made — OKR was the solution the organization needed. It was now time to choose where to manage those OKRs and plan the rollout process. By August 2019, after an in-depth evaluation of tools, Perdoo was the most fitting for Proemion. Having a tool focusing on both OKRs and KPIs, and having a dedicated coach to guide them through their implementation process proved invaluable.
The question now was: How should we roll OKR and Perdoo out across the organization? And, how can we do that in a way that improves internal communication and boosts cross-functional collaboration?
With the help of Perdoo’s coach, it was decided that a step-by-step approach would be taken to implement OKRs, KPIs and Perdoo throughout the organization. Proemion wanted everyone to thoroughly understand the OKR framework, and get on the same page with the direction of the organization and how they could contribute.
The entire process took a total of 8 months — two months of investigation, and a challenging yet successful 6 months of rolling out the framework and training teams.
Let’s take a closer look at the implementation process:
A preliminary rollout plan was drafted on paper. An initial group was put together: 5 individuals on the lead level that had the reputation of being critical thinkers, plus the COO, the OKR Ambassador, and an HR manager. The group was introduced to Perdoo, the OKR framework and KPIs via slides and in-depth training sessions.
Simultaneously, the organization’s strategy was formalized and company OKRs and KPIs were drafted by the COO with the help of Perdoo’s coach. These weren’t final, but it was a great exercise to introduce OKR to the group and seek constructive feedback from the team.
At this stage, the aim wasn’t to master the art of working with OKRs, but instead to learn how to draft great Key Results by focusing on outcomes rather than outputs. The team also wanted to get familiar with Perdoo, understand and challenge the company’s strategy and goals, and visualize the initial alignment opportunities for groups.
Robert adds that:
“In the coming months, we tried to formulate our strategic goals as "Objectives and Key Results" to learn and challenge the framework. Also, I reached out to friends in the start-up industry who were using OKRs and read other literature about the topic to dive deeper. Finally, we introduced OKRs to the whole organization to set our goals for the new calendar year.”
Following the first stage of the rollout and once the initial group was fully on board with the OKR framework, KPIs and Perdoo, the following rollout groups were defined. Each of those groups comprised up to 6 group heads and team leads. They were trained on the OKR framework and then were asked to draft their team goals, aligning to the company’s Objectives and strategy.
Team leads were the internal advocates of the OKR framework. As internal advocates, once they were fully immersed in Proemion’s OKR program, they shared initial learnings from the OKR framework with their teams. If team members needed some additional OKR training, they were delivered by Proemion’s OKR Ambassador, Kathrin Hafermas. Kathrin mentions:
“The entire rollout wasn’t a top-down process, it was bottom-up and parallel.”
By the beginning of 2020, at a company annual event, the entire organization was presented with the company strategy and goals — OKRs and KPIs. By this point, everyone was familiar with the OKR framework and the importance of KPIs to maintain the health of the organization, so they could easily follow the direction the organization was taking. Teams could then identify where their efforts would best support the organization’s strategy and goals.
In Proemion’s case, a gradual approach to rolling out OKR, KPIs, and Perdoo helped everyone understand in-depth the framework and methodology before the information was passed on to the next area of the business. In doing so, Proemion built OKR advocates along the way, nurturing a culture of transparency and collaboration throughout the organization.
Following a successful implementation of their OKR program, Proemion has witnessed an innate cultural shift in terms of communication and collaboration. Here are some of the benefits they’ve seen unfold since the implementation of OKRs and KPIs:
- A focus on outcomes instead of outputs: Teams and individuals began actively focusing on the outcomes of their efforts, as opposed to the outputs they needed to carry out. It’s always tempting to focus on what needs to be done (activities) as opposed to what needs to be achieved. OKR flips this on its head, encouraging you to consider what should be done to achieve those outcomes.
- Transparency: With Perdoo, Proemion has a centralized place where everyone in the organization has real-time access to the organization’s strategy and goals, as well as the other teams’ goals. This helps everyone stay on the same page at all times.
- Alignment: Having that transparency and access to the company strategy and goals, alongside other team’s goals, provides teams and individuals open access to identify opportunities for collaboration. Kathrin mentions that now “we’re definitely leaving the silo mentality behind.”
Curious to hear an in-depth narration of Proemion’s OKR Ambassador’s experience in rolling OKR out? Listen to the podcast:
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