A vision lacking clarity
In 2019, Streamline Health’s CEO came on board, soon uncovering that while Streamline Health had strong management in place that was doing a lot of impactful work, the organization lacked overall alignment.
“It just didn’t feel like we were marching in the same direction” - Ben Stilwill, CEO, eValuator Solutions, one of Streamline Health’s companies.
Their “One-Page Strategic Plan” defined the organization’s core values and long-term vision, but it lacked clarity — it was difficult for managers to communicate these ambitions in a personal and actionable manner. Teams regularly reported on their selected KPIs and ongoing activities, but how this work impacted the organization’s longer-term strategy was often unclear. There was an apparent disconnect between the desired future and how the organization would work toward accomplishing this vision in the shorter term.
Realizing the company’s vision with OKR
What’s a vision and strategy when no one understands it or knows how to contribute to it? Upon that realization, the CEO decided it was the right time to introduce the OKR framework and find a suitable tool to manage all the organization’s most important goals. Streamline Health chose Perdoo.
“We needed an OKR tool to really put it out there and say: Hey, here's the alignment that we see and the daily work that you have contributes to the team, and contributes to the corporate level. I think it’s very helpful in that sense.” - Ben Stilwill, CEO of eValuator Solutions
For Streamline Health, implementing OKR meant introducing a tool that connects their everyday, ongoing activities and the organization’s overarching strategy. It provides everybody with a clear window into how their work contributes to the organization’s success. But this wasn’t all — they wanted to build a healthy OKR program, to ensure that each employee understood why these OKRs were important and how they could contribute to their success. Their aim was to ensure that their people feel connected to the organization’s vision through their work.
Curious to learn how they did that? Let’s take a look at their two-step process.
Making OKR their own
For Streamline Health, working with OKRs was an iterative exercise — they gathered key learnings and improved along the way. They soon saw that for OKR to be a success, it was important that each individual felt personally connected to the goals they worked on. This needed to become second nature throughout the organization. They uniquely realized this in two ways:
Integrating OKR with internal cultural frameworks
Streamline Health works with two core cultural frameworks — Verne Harnish’s One-Page Strategic Plan and Gallup’s Clifton Strengths. The One-Page Strategic Plan acts as the compass for the organization’s OKR program, encapsulating all the organization’s strategic elements — communicating the ultimate goal, the big hairy audacious goal (10-year), a 5-year goal, and annual priorities. The overarching vision trickles down to form annual priorities that are then reflected as annual OKRs within Perdoo.
Clifton Strengths, on the other hand, is a personality assessment framework that provides individuals with a common language to describe themselves and their strengths. This helps teams understand each other better and allows managers to create environments in which their teams can thrive.
In Perdoo, Streamline Health’s annual OKRs are readily available to the entire organization. Managers and teams then identify actionable areas to support through cross-functional quarterly OKRs, as well as allocate the most suitable resources and strengths to work on them.
Having such company-wide insight and an available pool of strengths, not only supports one of their differentiating values; transparency but also invites the continuous creation of dynamic goals driven by hand-picked expertise. This ultimately supports the execution of the organization’s annual priorities and longer-term strategy.
“It (OKR) has really created a rallying cry for the organization. Each OKR is inspiring. It helps indicate where we want to focus our resources. And then, from there, the teams can hang their OKRs from those more inspiring ones to the ones that are actually going to get the work done. And they're able to do it in a personal way.” - Ben Stilwill, CEO of eValuator Solutions.
2. CEO commitment and embedding OKR within ongoing operations
For Streamline Health, besides integrating the OKR program within the organization’s cultural framework, another prerequisite to a healthy OKR program has been to incorporate OKR into the organization’s DNA. The executives are committed and ensure they’re keeping the OKR program front and center.
Within Perdoo, the leadership runs through their OKRs multiple times a week, checking in on progress and establishing areas for improvement. Based on the acquired learnings, longer working sessions are carried out with senior leadership on a monthly basis.
The CEO’s involvement in the OKR program is critical to its health — keeping a regular check on whether the work being done aligns with the overarching Objectives or not. As Stilwill says, “things outside guardrails are not going to push the organization forward.”
Any such developments and improvements are communicated to everyone in what Streamline Health calls their “Bi-weekly Happy Hour.” This way, teams, and individuals are continuously kept up to date and have an opportunity to adapt and course-correct where needed.
The outcome of a well-integrated OKR program
Strategy execution isn’t easy — it’s a process that requires commitment and care. And when OKR is the chosen medium of execution, it’s critical for it to speak to the culture of the organization in order for it to become second nature.
Streamline Health created a holistic symbiosis between its strategic, OKR, and personality frameworks. Each closely relies on the other to ensure that teams and people continue to work on the things that truly make the biggest impact and push the organization toward its desired future. And by mapping out the company and team goals within Perdoo, Streamline Health ensures that everyone keeps their finger on the pulse at all times.
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