OKR Challenges & Pitfalls, Solved

The ZOKRI team met and talked OKRs with over 100 companies at SaaStr Annual 2019 in San Jose. Their story of OKR challenges and pitfalls was entirely consistent with our last 12 months of learnings from clients.

OKR Challenges & Pitfalls, Solved

The ZOKRI team met and talked OKRs with over 100 companies at SaaStr Annual 2019 in San Jose. Their story of OKR challenges and pitfalls was entirely consistent with our last 12 months of learnings from clients.

OKRs are good for growth, BUT ...

There is no argument that goal setting and more specifically, OKRs, are good for growth. But there is a BIG but ….

OKRs are a simple idea, but hard to get right

We hear all the time that it’s not been easy for teams to pick-up and run with OKRs. The quality of the OKRs they naturally set are not very high and need a lot of work to get right. The biggest cause of this is the next reality ….

OKRs set are often not very good and are often mostly tasks

There’s a reason why the most popular OKR book is called Measure What Matters. OKRs and more specifically Key Results, have measurement at their heart. And to be measured you’d usually be able to define a metric that is being measured in order to define success.

Take this example of a good balanced, metric driven OKR for example:

The achievement of the Objective of Optimizing the Sales Pipeline has been defined by 4 Metrics: SQLs, SQL conversion to Closed Won, the number of Reps making Quota, the Sales Cycle, and the number of Ramped Reps. The story of this would read something like:

We need 250 SQLs to feed our 5 Reps (Ramped Reps), these SQL’s need to convert at over 20% (Conversion to Closed Won) in under 30 days (sales cycle), in order for over 90% of our reps to make Quota.

This gives Sales leadership clear direction and focuses them on the levers that correlate with improvements in sales funnel performance. These activities, tasks or what we call Initiatives, that naturally follow-on from this would be focused at these improving metrics. They could include improving sales process, monitoring, training, and hiring for example.

Task: Do your OKRs have metric names in that you could underline or highlight, and track? Or are they binary tasks that can be completed or not?

The management overhead of OKRs can be higher than expected

Because of the above issues, the management overhead of setting and managing OKRs can be higher than expected, and adoption from the top down and bottom up can suffer. This puts at risk the potential performance increases provide. Which include:

  • Goals and Metric Driven: Being goal and metric driven increases business performance.
  • Transparency and Alignment: Inter-team goal transparency creates better alignment and teamwork, which increases performance.
  • Ambitious and Efficient: OKRs, because they are metric driven encourage teams to stretch themselves, and at the same time optimize how they work, doing the most effective activities first in order to achieve goals.

Set, Forget, then Panic

Finally, there’s the issue of the quarterly set and forget goals. They are not being tracked, there are no weekly check-ins with teams and managers, and there are none of the resultant benefits outlined above. What there is, is a mad panic at the end of the period to update numbers and get ready to justify performance.

OKR Weaknesses are Human

What you discover when setting up and running OKRs is that the weaknesses of the OKR framework are mostly human. We’ve outlined weaknesses like poor OKR creation, and set and forget. Others include having too many OKRs, therefore diluting focus, and poor alignment top down, bottom up, and horizontally.

What you also learn is that OKR weaknesses can be solved with better systems, processes and software. Which is where ZOKRI comes in.

ZOKRI is your OKR solution

From the outset, ZOKRI understood the common issues, challenges and dysfunctions, around OKR implementation. We designed the ZOKRI platform to solve them so management don’t have to, making companies and teams more likely to succeed with OKRs with ZOKRI than alternatives. These solutions include:

  • Metric First Set-up: You define metrics you care about and want to track in ZOKRI, and these metrics become part of your Key Results. The metrics can be sourced via integrations like Google Analytics, Stripe and Salesforce, or manually via internal metric owners e.g. Accounts teams.
  • Easy To Use Builders: We created builders that make is easy in just a few steps to create quality OKRs with minimal training and low touch management oversight.
  • Initiatives: To help teams correlate the tasks or initiatives they are doing and completing to improve metrics and OKRs (and not set them as Key Results), we created the ability to define, run and conduct a retrospective on initiatives. This not only becomes a way of defining and selecting the most impactful activities to do, it becomes your knowledge-base and playbook of what works and what doesn’t, and what you have learned.
  • Check-ins: A weekly check-in for OKR and Initiative owners and collaborators ensures you keep focused and agile, and means there are no surprises at the end of the quarter as confidence and progress were updated as the weeks went by.

OKR pitfalls and challenges, solved

Yes, there are OKR pitfalls and challenges. But these should not deter you. You don’t have to suffer the risks they provide as long as you’ve a solution in place like ZOKRI to help guide and manage them. After that, it is all performance upside.

Free Account Sign-up

No Credit Card Required