16. Januar 2019

10 Myths About OKRs (Part 2)

Konstantin Schaller

10 Myths About Implementing OKRs At Large Companies (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of the article - please click here to check out the first five myths concerning how to get started with implementing OKRs at large companies.

-Myths about how to create lasting impact and scale OKR use-

Myth 6: You're done once your OKR posters are up on the wall

You did it. You defined your OKRs for the quarter. You're crystal clear as to what your priorities are and what you'll focus on for the coming weeks. All that's left to do is get straight to work, right? In theory, yes. In my experience, however, it's extremely helpful to create your proper OKR Board. Don't just simply hang your OKR poster up on the wall; create a Kanban board (each objective being a different swim lane) which will help you manage your OKRs during the quarter and track your progress.

Myth 7: Managing using OKRs is not that different after all

Don't be mistaken: Using OKRs requires a significant shift in how you track and discuss your performance, especially when compared to more traditional management techniques such as management by objectives (MBO). If taken seriously, OKRs are a real cultural game changer. For one, leaders within traditional large corporations are not at all accustomed to committing to bold, ambitions goals. In addition, it's a real change to shift from a reporting mindset to an agile mindset. OKR discussions aren't akin to traditional status reports; they're honest discussions around impediments and learning opportunities. This doesn't just feel different - it is different.

Myth 8: Traditional KPIs and dashboards become totally obsolete

One of the things that frequently gets mixed up in discussions around OKRs is their relationship to traditional controlling instruments such as mid-term planning, balanced score cards, and so forth. Here's the thing: These traditional instruments are just that: controlling instruments. OKRs, on the other hand, help you focus and align on key strategic initiatives and permit you to check if you've made any measurable progress toward them. They're are an instrument of strategy. That said, your OKRs and classic KPIs will likely overlap at certain points. They tend be loosely coupled. That's why most corporations treat OKRs as complementary rather than as a substitute.

Myth 9: You won't scale without a "Chief OKR Officer"

By all means: It will definitely help if you have a strong OKR advocate within your organization! Interestingly enough, however, OKRs typically generate quite a lot of pull by themselves. Some departments and divisions become curious what all the fuss is about, others will start directly experimenting with OKRs by themselves. So be ready for some good momentum and healthy organic OKR growth as you start out. In addition, you may find that shared OKRs and project-related OKRs provide a helpful mechanism to introduce OKRs to other departments and thus start the scaling process.

Myth 10: OKRs don’t square well with large scale agile frameworks

The opposite is true: OKRs complement existing large scale agile frameworks such as SAFe. That's because these frameworks tend to focus on the output produced by agile teams (e.g. features coded, tested and released), rather than the outcome (e.g. additional clicks, visits and revenue). In my experience I have found, for example, OKRs to be an excellent complement to SAFe's Program Increment Objectives.

So here they are, my 10 myths. What do you think? Got feedback or questions? Let me know!

Konstantin Schaller