OKR – The magical wand to turn strategy into actions

OKR - The magical wand to turn strategy into actions

10% of the success for your organization is determined by strategy while 90% is attributed to execution. Having an incredible strategy on paper means nothing if your organization cannot make it work in the real world. More than half of the strategies fail due to the organization’s inability to execute them. It is the link between strategy and execution that can make or break your ability to succeed. No wonder OKRs serve as a magical wand that swiftly enables you to turn your strategies into actions. How? Let’s find out!

OKR - The magical wand to turn strategy into actions

As a leader, what is the most challenging, frustrating, significant, and rewarding challenge you face? How about the quarterly or perennial planning offsite? Just think about the amount of work, time, and effort you and your respective team put into it. But now you face the daunting task of turning all of that into an actionable plan – which your whole organization will align around and execute. Tum sums it up, the challenge is to find the mechanism that engages and commits your organization towards action while allowing flexibility for making changes when justified. OKR enables you to do it all for your organization and ensures that you are able to turn strategies into actions effectively. 

So how do you turn strategy into action?

We now look at how you can turn strategy into action but first, let’s take a glance at how the process normally works to give you clarity as to how this process is disrupted and just won’t cut it. 

How the process generally works 

You have probably seen things flow in this manner in your organization – you document your organizational goals which your departmental leaders (hopefully) down to their teams and establish aligned departmental goals. Then you establish a loosely-defined process for regulating the progress. Two weeks in and boom – everyone forgets to even check the shared documents with the plan and goals. Team meetings are held but no one has faith in the progress updates of the organization. Goals are marked as a consideration to be on track only until someone fires up a red flare. As soon as something disrupts the process, you and your management team go back to the drawing board and change the focus on whatever short-term emergency demands attention. Come to the end of the quarter, the original objectives are ignored or discredited. Rinse, repeat!

This sounds familiar, right? But it doesn’t have to be this way if you want your strategies to be turned into actions and take your organization towards the desired success. 

How the process should work – thanks to OKRs

The OKR program was popularized by Facebook, Google, and Intel. It offers an organization an incredible framework for establishing measurable goals that help your organization in achieving the mission. Performance management tools provide a medium to establish these goals, disseminate them to the teams of your organization, and report on the current progress in though an easy-to-use interface. The key to nailing this process involves following these steps:

a. Translate your strategy into the top-level objectives of the organization. This may seem to be absolutely obvious by now, but this is what separates a successful organization from a struggling one. You are able to bring clarity to the process and set cross-functional objectives if your teams have separate objectives. 

b. Cascade the objectives to your departmental leaders such as the marketing, operations, product, and sales leaders. However, you have to pay to make sure that you do not cascade the objectives all the way down. This will result in making the process way too long and rigid. Instead, you should do what is described in the next point. 

c. Foster the culture and process where teams develop their own objectives. Not just that, they should be aligning these objectives with the higher-level objectives of your organization. You have to involve the people doing the work. OKR allows you to do so in an extremely easy manner. 

d. Carve out time for reviewing the objectives across the organization to ensure alignment. No matter how ambitious the goal is set, it’s of no use if they are not aligned to ensure that everyone moves together towards the bigger picture. 

e. Reserve room for improvement at all times. In other words, modern organizations demand agility. If you need to change a goal mid-quarter, that is absolutely fine! Blindly tackling objectives that are irrelevant or need to be pushed out is just following the process for the sake of it. It would not drive your organization forward. 

Last but not least,

What are the traits that contribute to organizational success?

Be transparent 

If you want to turn your strategies into actions, ensure that the goals are visible to everyone. When your employees what the goals of the organization are, they will be more likely to work on the ideal things, understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, and result in better satisfaction. 

Enable alignment

Instead of bureaucracy, you have to develop autonomy. The employees working for you are smart enough to know how they can do their jobs well. By being clear with expectations, your teams will be able to establish their own objectives and align them with the organizational objectives. 

Establishment of accountability

You need to have an OKR tool for regularly updating the progress of the objectives – without this, it can be impossible to turn strategy into action. The setting of expectations is vital to ensure that the smart people hired by you how how to consistently update the organization on progress. 

Making the execution last

Having aligned your objectives, plan, and involve your direct reports, you have to now focus on enablement and engage in the ongoing team reviews. Make the continuous updating of goal rating and metrics a vital part of the weekly operational cadence of your organization. This is where the organizations are most likely to fall down as they fail to establish organizational goals as part of the ongoing process of the business. Moreover, you don’t learn success through a book, you learn it through repeated small habits. So the execution of small and positive behaviors will add up to amazing insights and results. 

Well, now that you have realized that OKRs enable your organization to turn strategies into action, it’s time for you to take the action and contact us for getting your organization on board with OKRS!

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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