OKRs & Culture

It will not be a surprise that there is a strong correlation between the type of culture you have and performance. After all, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

okrs and culture

What types of culture work best? It has been found that a high-trust, generative culture is not only important for creating a safe working environment, it is the foundation of creating a high-performance organization – which OKRs thrive in.

Over the years, a number of methodologies have been developed to measure culture. These include the Westrum Typology.

With the Westrum Typology, three different organizational cultures can be described with six characteristics.




Low co-operation

Modest co-operation

High co-operation

Messengers shot

Messengers neglected

Messengers trained

Responsibilities shirked

Narrow responsibilities

Risks are shared

Bridging discouraged

Bridging tolerated

Bridging encouraged

Failure leads to scapegoating

Failure leads to justice

Failure leads to inquiry

Novelty crushed

Novelty leads to problems

Novelty implemented

Fancy testing your own organization? Use these 6 statements with grading that ranges from, 1 (strongly disagree) to a 7 (strongly agree):

  1. On my team, information is actively sought
  2. On my team, failures are learning opportunities, and messengers of them are not punished
  3. On my team, responsibilities are shared
  4. On my team, cross-functional collaboration is encouraged and rewarded
  5. On my team, failure causes enquiry
  6. On my team, new ideas are welcomed

The generative performance-oriented culture is very similar to another cultural trait called Psychological Safety. Something that’s explored next.

What Google Found Out About Performance & Culture


An extensive workplace performance research project to discover the secrets of effective teams at Google – code-named Project Aristotle, concluded that psychological safety plays a huge role in team performance along with: dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact.

Psychological safety: Psychological Safety refers to an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk or a belief that a team is safe for risk taking in the face of being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive.

The research statements that are used to survey and measure Psychological Safety are:

What is it like to work in a team with high levels of Psychological Safety?

In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.

Dependability: You will know that you’re working in a dependable team when members reliably complete quality work on time.

In a less dependable team the team has poor visibility into project priorities or progress, and there is a diffusion of responsibility with no clear owners for tasks or problems.

Which is why OKR and KPIs that are centralized and accessible to everyone in a platform like ZOKRI is a great idea. Check-ins ensure that progress as well as delays, issues, and blockers are communicated frequently.

Good questions to consider are:

Structure and clarity: It was found that an individual’s understanding of job expectations, the process for fulfilling these expectations, and the consequences of one’s performance are important for team effectiveness.

Goals set at the individual or group level, and must be specific, challenging, and attainable. Google also recommends Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help set and communicate short and long term goals.

It was found that in organizations where leaders visibly align around common OKRs and demonstrate their commitment to OKRs, they are better able to establish a common approach across teams.

Question to consider include:

Meaning: It was found that finding a sense of purpose in either the work itself or the output is also really important for team effectiveness.

The meaning of work is personal and can vary: financial security, supporting family, helping the team succeed, or self-expression for each individual, for example.

Meaning is lower when work assignments are based solely on ability, expertise, workload; with little consideration for individual development needs and interests. In addition to a lack of regular recognition for achievements or milestones.

Questions to consider include:

Impact: The results of an employee’s work, and the belief that your work is making a difference, is important for teams. Seeing that one’s work is contributing to the organization’s goals can help reveal impact, which is where clearly aligned OKRs can help.

Signs that your team needs to improve impact: include having too many goals, limiting ability to make meaningful progress

Questions to consider:

ZOKRI has been designed to support your business by optimizing all of these critical aspects of organizational and team performance – from proving strategy and goal clarity, to ensuring impact and meaning are felt and understood.

Company Values Consistent With Performance


Here are some ideas for company values that align with high performing companies and teams.

People matter most

We are here to make our customers and our colleagues lives better:

Take ownership and be transparent

We are transparent about where we are and where we plan to get to:

Be courageous and do not fear failure

We do not fear failure, failure is how we practice to be the best at what we do:

We are all work in progress

Our ability to be individually vulnerable and coachable is our collective strength:

We will win together

We put the company and team before ourselves so that we all might thrive

Questions to consider:

Leaders are responsible for planning systems that support the delivery of strategy and goals, and building a high performing culture that supports goal achievement.

ZOKRI has applied system thinking to ensure organizations have a management system that embeds common values, beliefs, and working practices. Ensuring employees work effectively together to achieve strategic, team and personal goals.