Objectives and key results (OKRs) are a simple process, but they’re hard to get right on the first try. If you’re new to OKRs or struggling with unmet objectives, know that it’s perfectly normal to need to adjust your original plan. Most importantly, rest assured that there are tried and true ways to get back on track.
In our recent webinar, Michael Davis (Head of Strategic Services here at Ally) spoke with Atruity President & CEO, Tim Meinhardt, on how to stay agile with OKRs, especially in a world where things are moving fast and changing quickly. As an expert OKR implementation consultant, Tim promises that you will get better at writing and executing OKRs, as long as you “learn forward.”
Let’s look at what Tim means by that, as well as the most frequent factors that cause OKRs to fail, and how you can get back on track when things go awry.
“Just because you set a goal doesn’t mean it has to stay set in stone,” assures Michael. These are three situations that are likely to come up that will require a change in goals, even after they’ve been set:
In the first few weeks of an OKR period, it’s completely reasonable to adjust your objectives and key results when one – or more – of the above situations presents itself. The faster you identify these scenarios and adjust accordingly, the quicker you can get back to getting the work done.
However, Tim warns that at a certain point (usually after 6 weeks into the quarter), it’s better to drop a goal and focus on what you can get done, than to spend the energy and time trying to force it to work for you. This is what he calls “learning forward.” It’s recognizing that every quarter you will get a little bit better at writing OKRs that fit, but in the meantime, it’s not a perfect science.
In the spirit of learning forward, Michael and Tim compiled the reasons for OKR failure that they see most frequently, so you can learn from the mistakes of others. Keep an eye out for these so your organization can have a better chance at OKR success.
Remember, OKRs are a journey, not a destination. Your program will evolve and improve over time if you remain agile, so don’t be disheartened when you run up against setbacks.
There’s no need to wallow in unharmonious OKRs or give up on the process, because there are ways to get back on track. When you do, your organization will reap the incredible benefits of OKRs, and all the challenges will be worth the effort.
First, revisit the fundamental elements of your program. Michael advises organizations to think back to what they originally set out to achieve and be honest about whether it’s still the right focus. Is it in line with mission, vision, and values? Will it help your business – or your team – reach the next level of success? If not, it may be necessary to go back to the drawing board.
Next, leverage a software platform, like Ally, that will anchor you to your goals. It’s easier when everything’s in one place so there is transparency, accountability, and alignment across your organization.
If you’re still feeling like you’re just not getting it right, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Our partners at Atruity guide organizations through the implementation process and stick when them afterward to drive long-term results.
Ready for some help with your OKR program? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our OKR coaches and get set on a path to achieving results for your organization or team.
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