Before implementing OKR, it’s important to understand that it often requires changing the way your entire organization approaches work. To be successful with the goal management framework, there are some criteria your company should meet. If you can answer the following seven questions with ‘yes,’ you’re ready to start your OKR journey.
1. Are you ambitious?
OKR helps companies achieve their ambitions. Do you want to become more digital and develop an innovative edge or do you want to accelerate your revenue growth? OKR will help everyone in your organization focus on the work that will get you there more effectively.
Although the OKR framework looks simple, you shouldn’t underestimate the effort of starting and maintaining a successful OKR program. If you have ambitious targets, it will pay off. However, if all you want to do is to maintain the status quo or to make small, iterative improvements, implementing OKR may not be for you.
2. Is OKR backed by leadership?
It’s crucial that leadership is involved and actively promotes OKR within the organization for it to be successful. OKR needs company Objectives to be successful, and leadership are responsible for setting them. For company-wide rollouts, the backing of C-level executives gives company-wide credibility to the OKR program.
3. Does your company have a clear purpose?
Before you start with OKR, you should be clear about why your company exists. Why was your organization created in the first place? If you combine your company’s purpose (your Mission) with what you want to become in the future (your Vision), you’ll get to your Ultimate Goal. Once transformed into a measurable Ultimate OKR, it will be like North Star that puts your annual Company OKRs in a larger perspective and provides direction.
4. Are you willing to commit time and effort to your OKR program?
If a company doesn’t derive value from OKR, it’s most likely due to a lack of commitment of time and resources. OKR is a process of learning and iterating, and it can take up a year until your company starts seeing the full value of OKR. Implementing OKR without committing to it for at least a year is like a farmer sowing his seeds in spring and giving up because he can’t harvest his crops in summer. With patience and perseverance, the rewards of the harvest will come in fall once the seeds have had time to ripen.
5. Can you nominate someone to manage your OKR program?
As mentioned before, starting and maintaining an OKR program demands time and effort from everyone involved. Every new process requires people to take care of it. Just as the software development framework Scrum needs a Scrum Master, OKR is facilitated by an OKR Ambassador. This person will be accountable for helping people understand and successfully work with OKRs, ensuring leadership and groups (e.g., departments and teams) create their OKRs in time, and making sure progress is updated and communicated on a regular basis.
6. Is your company and are your groups tracking KPIs?
You won’t be able to set targets for your company and groups unless you have a solid process for tracking metrics. Without measurement of key business or performance metrics in place, it becomes very difficult to set Key Results and to measure how your Key Results move, relative to a benchmark.
A positive side effect of OKR is that it forces you to think about how to measure success. This means that often you’ll need to find new metrics to track or new ways to measure existing metrics to help you achieve your Objectives.
7. Is transparency something you’re ready for?
Many leaders say they want more transparency in their organizations but some of them don’t know what transparency actually means. Are you willing to share KPIs like revenue, EBITDA margin, or market share with your entire organization? If you want to unlock the full power of OKR and enable everyone to work toward shared goals, making all KPIs available to everyone is key. For many companies, this is a big cultural shift but you’ll be surprised how productive and engaged employees are if they have more insights into the organization they work for.
Here’s your OKR Checklist