Wondering if your company is OKR ready?

How OKR’s success folds overtime

18 March, 2022
5 mins

The success OKR(Objectives and Key Results) reaps looks different in different stages. If implemented optimally OKR results in unlocking radical customer focus, high adaptivity, transparency and alignment across the organization, and much more. However, your organization cannot unlock this wide range of benefits right away. It requires time to define approaches and find suitable metrics, which is why some of the benefits unfold later when compares to the others. Read further to know how the success of OKR folds over time.

Your organization might experience some of the benefits of OKRs before the other benefits. This is completely natural and should not be mistaken for OKR not working for your organization. It’s all part of the process of the OKR program. Expectation management is therefore extremely vital for leaders and OKR coaches to make everyone involved aware of what success will look like throughout the process of OKR. 

OKR's success folds overtime

Source: Pexels

Benefits of OKR during the first cycle

Alignment is known to be one of the biggest benefits of using OKR and its result can be seen unfolding right from the initiation of the OKR cycle. During the alignment process, the teams that earlier worked in silos get to communicate with each other and have a regular discussion on the initiatives towards the common objectives. This gives them clarity about responsibilities and deters double work in areas of overlap. This helps in uncovering a lot of room for improvement in collaboration and communication. Teams often ask themselves after the first cross-functional meetings why have they not been doing this all along? 

Another benefit that is revealed during the first cycle is that communication and transparency become noticeably enhanced. The organizational objectives provide a clear picture and everyone gets an insight into how their work contributes to the ultimate organizational objective. This has a direct influence on engagement and motivation, as team members get a sense that their effort is valuable for the organization to achieve the higher purpose of the organization. Although in terms of outcome-thinking and focus it takes time for some teams to modify their mindset. Teams often become too focused on what project they are working on rather than formulating the value and result of this initiative will bring to the customer. They are nudged for limiting themselves on what is more significant during the cycle and question who they create value for but periodically might fall back into the previous practices. This is no need for concern, but it makes sense to evaluate the objectives in terms of outcome focus again during the check-in sessions for improving the goal quality over the next cycles. 

Learning and improving during the second phase 

The most significant impact after the first one or two cycles is the aspect of improving and learning. Teams can be seen making the first data-driven decisions, even though they can struggle to decide the suited metrics. It can also get tricky to evaluate the progress as the low quantity of data makes it hard to find the baseline. The solution would be to constantly work on discovering, building up, and refining the right metrics and make the teams more and more data-driven. 

In addition to this, the initial cycles bring forth frictions with existing processes and practices. This is inevitable while enforcing new structures and processes and should be expected before. As the OKR program is highly focused on bringing everything to the surface, teams get the chance to resolve the frictions, which might require a bit more time, but is vital for smooth collaboration beyond silos. 

During this stage, it is vital to stay focused on the positive facet and not dwell on the frictions, obstacles, and challenges. There should be discussions for addressing and discussing the problems, but in terms of motivation, bear in mind that this part of the methodology and success will be confined to the learnings during this phase. 

Unlocking the mastery after +3 cycles

During this stage, organizations get a certain maturity and habit of working with the OKR program. Although, there still can be circumstances where friction in collaboration can be detected but teams now have a better understanding of tackling them. As the data structure gets improvised and teams operate with established baselines, they become better equipped for measuring their key results. Furthermore, the learning from the previous check-ins fosters the mindset of continuous refinement and learning. 

Talking about alignment, teams become way better at aligning their OKRs and formulating them around issues that are solved in cross-functional teams. This customer focus and consistent creation of value allow the organizational teams to enjoy a competitive advantage and adaptability to the challenges and changes thrown in their way. While the majority of the benefits of the OKR framework unfold during this stage, this does in no way bring organizations to the end of the journey, as making OKR work well is just the start. As the teams are able to align their objectives, they now become better at defining value streams for serving the customer requests in a better way. Moreover, with the established focus on customer value, accountability, transparency, and collaboration, organizations lay the base to continually develop innovative solutions and foster ever more close associations with their customers. 

Expectation management is vital 

Leaders and OKR coaches need to make their employees and teams understand that some of the benefits of OKR can be experienced earlier than others. Some of them, such as the data-driven and outcome-focused mindsets are developed with time. It is crucial for the coaches to put the frustration during the entire process into perspective and have clearly communicated that the issues that may occur are all part of the process. However, it will all payout in the end. After all, the whole process in the OKR program is a constant learning process for the entire organization. 

You surely want your organization to enjoy the benefits of the organization. Contact us right away to unlock the benefits of the OKR framework and give your organization the drive it needs to achieve the desired success.