How to roll-out OKRs

If you have read and seen enough and you want to roll-out OKRs in your team, where do you start?

Start By Making The Roll-out An OKR Project

If you want to embed OKRs without any issues and at an optimal speed you need to treat the initiative as an OKR project. As such there will be a timeline, tasks, milestones, dependencies, stakeholders, owners and collaborators.

The risk of now treating your OKR roll-out as a project is it gets implemented averagely and OKRs and the knowledge, processes and cadences you need never take root. Then after a quarter or two you become one of those companies that say “we tried OKRs but they didn’t work”. The truth is most of these OKR failures happened because of poor OKR planning.

Start Your OKR Roll-out With The Right People

Typically, to deliver an OKR roll-out effectively, some key roles within your organization will need to be allocated. Ideally these would include:

OKR Executive Sponsor – A member of the Leadership Team (ideally the CEO) who can represent and sponsor the project at the top level, make key decisions about how OKRs will operate, and ensure resources are allocated.

OKR Project Lead – A senior manager (ideally C-level) who will be the key point of contact, and responsible for the overall success of the OKR process longer term.

OKR HR/People Lead – A representative from HR to ensure that the process fits with other ‘people processes’.

Internal OKR Coach – someone who will support OKR skill development longer term. We aim to make customers self-sustainable ASAP with all the skills needed available in-house to deliver on-going, consistent and sustainable OKR excellence.

OKR Co-ordinator – organise meeting schedules, logistics and attendance, chase OKR updates and compile reports if you’re not using ZOKRI.

Tried OKRs Already?

If you’re not new to OKRs we would recommend running an OKR Retrospective. We will review the OKRs that have been set for the most recent period, what went well and what did not. This will take the form of a retrospective/post-mortem workshop, but will contain significant training components as well, dynamically selected for the relevant issues that appear. We will also review the relationship between teams and OKRs and may recommend changes to be considered during the planning phase.

New OKR Cycle Planning

Taking input from the Retrospective, and working with your OKR teams:

Select the deployment parameters e.g.:

  • Cycle length
  • Scoring system
  • Interaction with performance reviews
  • Where OKRs are managed e.g. in ZOKRI
  • How they are communicated etc.

Together will create a plan of how to approach the training and workshops. As part of this phase, the rest of the program will be adapted as needed to ensure a successful implementation, and durations, participants etc may vary.

OKR Planning Workshops

One of the best ways of planning OKRs is to use a workshop format. Teams share their ideas for Objectives and Key Results along with their reasoning for proposing the OKR. Typical debate points might include:

  • Why is this a problem / opportunity?
  • How long has this been a problem / opportunity?
  • Why haven’t we resolved this before?
  • How often is this a problem?
  • Are there any gaps in our thinking?
  • What would improve if we solved this?

ZOKRI’s team facilitate both OKR training and workshops where we work through all of the options to arrive at the OKRs that are priorities and will have the greatest impact on high-level company goals.

Commit To Change & Success

Changing the way you plan, measure KPIs and health metrics and track goals, and meet to discuss goals means change. Change takes time whether you like it or not, especially if you’re not used to agile working. What’s more, some people are better at it than others. Some people might even do all they can to block change. This is why you need Executive Sponsors and a team that’s going to commit to a more aligned, accountable, transparent and agile way of working. Don’t make success an option.

OKR Pilots Work As Well

You Then Share Your Experience With Other Teams

If you’re totally new to OKRs you could start with an OKR Software Pilot – perhaps just in one team. OKR coaching should be considered if you’re learning how to write OKRs.