Blog: The OKR story

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The OKR story

The key answer to the success of a firm lies in the kind of management framework that is followed by the organization and its members.
The OKR story

A lot of eyeballs jeer towards any small entrepreneurial ventures that are suddenly churning out humongous sums of profits in just a few years of its inception. The big question is; how do these companies successfully bag the spotlight?

Well, the key answer to the success of a firm lies in the kind of management framework that is followed by the organization and its members.

The History

OKR (Objective Key Resource) has been around since 1954. Peter Drucker was the first person to have coined the concept of MBO (Management by Objectives). In 1968, Andy Grove who co-founded Intel managed to tweak the framework of MBO; renaming the same to OKR. In 1999, John Doerr from Intel successfully implemented the framework and was later incorporated by Larry Page in Google too. The OKR is successfully used to this very day at Google.

What is OKR?

Objective Key Response is typically defined as; when the organization caters to a specific set of objective goals (typically varying between 3-5, depending on the size of the organization.) that can be achieved within the year/quarter/ month/week. Please note: taking of more than 6 objectives by any individual isn’t usually encouraged by the management, as this discounts on the quality of work, pretty much-impinging progress on the entire framework.   

About the goals

Objectives are not necessarily item specific or quantifiable in nature but could be used to foster better collaboration.

For instance; a company named ‘Swipely’ successfully used OKR to foster enhanced collaborations. On the other hand ‘Google’ used OKR to skilfully rev its way to the top, making its mark as a synonymously used search engine across the world. 

Goal wise

Goals trickle down to every level of the corporate hierarchy as sub-goals. These sub-goals are translated at an individual level, ensuring each employee (even of those at the management level) concludes a specific task in a given time frame in order to seek desired results. The OKR fosters a fundamental shift in the thought process, within the employees, and this shift will vary from goal to goal.

A single cohesive unit

Yes indeed, OKR could also be termed as a division of labor in order to achieve desired results, by working as a single cohesive unit to achieve designated targets as designed by the organization at the start of every year.

It is interesting to note that every individual working with Google is well aware of Larry Page’s goal and progress on the chosen objective at any given point in time. Transparency of the goals and progress is imperative to the health of the organization. It positively impacts the communication strategy of the organization, making it easier for different departments to reach out for help when required.

Is the Employee fired if the goal is unaccomplished?

Unaccomplished goals are not necessarily viewed as a tool to sack employees. In fact, it gives the management a chance to refine the goals in the upcoming quarter, and also check for any glitch in the ways of working.

How are these objectives laid down?

Once the management enlists the key objectives; it falls on the shoulders of each department to purposefully drive their team in order to achieve their mark. The progress is checked in a set time frame, and appraisals are awarded almost immediately. Immediate appraisals prove to become a driving force for the organization. It encourages more profound inputs on the employee’s part.

The management encourages the employee to embrace a certain amount of risk, and work out of their comfort zone.

Measuring goals

The completion of the task is measured on a metric scale as devised by the organization. The ‘Sweet Spot’ is achieved if the employee has accomplished somewhere around 60% to 70% of the enlisted target. If the target is achieved by 100%, the task is considered unambitious.

Google measures accomplished tasks on a scale of 0.0 – 1.0.

Does OKR look into budget cuts?  

It must be noted that OKR is an effective management framework that doesn’t exactly discount on budgets. However, it is used in a manner to ensure that designated budgets are fittingly steered to generate profits, in a set time frame.

In a nutshell, OKR will guarantee the strategic alignment of plans and goals. It will ensure focused execution of the goals, and will also deliver desired results as all employees are purposefully engaged.

The Use of OKR

OKR is typically used in tech inclined companies. However, after determining the success of the management framework, it is now used in churches, schools, and a number of other institutions as well. IT companies have devised applications to track record progress of the individuals/teams in a set time frame. Some of these applications include the likes of ‘Wunderlist’ and ‘Weekdone’. These applications are available for free on both Android and iOS platforms.

End Note

While OKRs are predominantly used at organizations it can also be incorporated at a personal level. The framework doesn’t only encourage individual growth but encourages individuals to take risks and accomplish tasks in a set frame of time. OKRs certainly aid in thinking of out of box solutions in order to brave any problems encountered by the individuals and also at an organizational level.

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Topics: Life @ Work, #GuestArticle

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