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How Trend Micro Accelerated Product Launch to Market with OKRs

In 2019, Adam Boyle had what felt like an impossible task. As VP of Hybrid Cloud Security at Trend Micro, he had to not just maintain his solution’s leading market share; he had to simultaneously develop a new platform that included several product units and, in turn, a more continuous set of security services for customers. The new cross-department cloud platform, Trend Micro Cloud One, was poised to be a big initiative for the company–and it had to be launched by year’s end.

“We needed an effective, scalable way to get organizational alignment because we had to deliver this thing by the end of the year,” Adam says. “I think the company thought it was impossible for us to deliver this on time. We were given a pretty impossible target, but we did it.”

Ally.io helped Adam and his team make the brand new security platform with six cloud security services generally available nearly one month before the original plan. “This opened the door to platform-level selling and we closed additional business as a result,” he says. “There were an extra 29 days our sales team used to drive leads and close deals.”

In the long-term, Adam believes Ally.io and OKRs in general are setting Trend Micro and the Hybrid Cloud Security team up for long-term success and innovative thinking.

“We have hundreds of people working across five sites around the world in many time zones,” Adam explains. “It has been our top priority to align the organization on a set of common goals. We needed a framework, and methodology, to get everyone on the same page. We are building a cloud security platform that is unlike anything in the market, so we call upon many teams independently to continuously release services, but also need to ensure we’re all running in the same solution fabric.”

Teams from across the globe also are now empowered to work toward a common vision and goal. OKRs have also helped Adam create a culture where team members feel safe enough to fail. “This psychological safety plays a huge role in shaping our culture and fueling innovation.”

A Thoughtful, Intentional Approach

Despite his aggressive goals to get Trend Micro Cloud One up and running, Adam was extremely thoughtful and intentional about his team’s use of OKRs, which has set a powerful foundation for Trend Micro’s success. In fact, he began the process by mastering the art of writing OKRs on his own before even introducing the concept to the larger team.

“I tried to lead by example and I failed all my objectives in my first quarter, which I pointed back to being on the road too much,” Adam says. “So, I canceled all of my trips during Q4, which is a critical time, and really focused on things.” After seeing success in this approach, he slowly began to tweak his approach to writing OKRs and shared his learnings with a small group of his colleagues.

By Q2, Adam introduced OKRs to the leadership team and focused primarily on developing high-quality objectives and key results. Although he was simultaneously researching a number of tools and eventually discovered Ally.io, Adam focused on educating his peers on crafting and managing OKRs manually using wikis. The goal was to minimize “tool enamorment,” which he believes “cradles people in the process.”

“I knew we needed to implement this well if we wanted it to scale well,” Adam says. “I’ve implemented so many tools and methodologies and most of them fall flat on their face.”

The reason for these false starts? “People think the tool will change the culture and that’s not it at all,” Adam shares. “The investment in the implementation, the leaders and the training got us to success. It was also the commitment of our leaders who bought into the process.”

But Ally.io–not just as a solution provider but as a partner–has helped. Adam notes that the team has thought through the entire experience, from training and implementation to ongoing support. The company even connected Adam with an Ally.io consultant to help drive ongoing excellence and solve new problems as they emerged. 

When I first approached Ally.io, they asked me about the problem I was hoping to solve,” Adam says. “And at the time, that challenge was rolling out the OKR framework to an entire line of business, which is roughly 500 people across multiple teams, positions and varying responsibilities. They recognized the herculean challenge that this brings. Rather than saying Ally.io is the tech solution for me, they introduced me to a third-party consultant to help troubleshoot and truly navigate this dilemma. Ally.io genuinely wanted to solve this problem instead of signing me up for a platform that I may or may not be able to roll out to my teams.”

Ally.io was made generally available in Q3 2020. All leaders and some champions began using the platform to track and manage quarterly objectives. After developing a check-in rhythm with the leader of each services team, they were able to exceed their revenue goals. Approximately 30 team members are actively editing OKRs and doing check-ins daily. 

Ally.io and OKRs “provided a decision-making framework to make some tough calls” about launching Trend Micro Cloud One successfully. “We were very date-driven, so we were continuously massaging our OKRs. If we didn’t have Ally.io, it would’ve been a little more random and a little less trackable and visible. But we were able to look at Ally.io and make decisions about what to postpone and better identify key priorities.”

Developing the Flywheel and Spreading the OKR Gospel

Despite the raging success of the Trend Micro Cloud One launch, Adam is still focused on leveling up his OKR practices. But the true end goal is scaling his lessons, and Ally.io, across more teams.

In early 2021, Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen laid out seven objectives for the company. Adam owns the “SaaS Growth” objective and established five “spokes” that are guiding objectives for his team. To expand upon key results, Adam is letting marketing, sales and alliance teams get involved.

“I’m trying to see what happens when we’re all pushing on the flywheel common objective with multidisciplinary results,” he says. “The goal is to get this thing moving faster than 5mph in 2021 and then move up to 25 mph in 2022.”

Although this strategy is helping Adam take a slow and steady approach to driving OKR adoption, the ultimate goal is to scale Ally.io across hundreds or even thousands of employees across the organization. The goal is to take implementation beyond leadership teams and move across team members. For example, he’s meeting with the alliances team, customer success team and even the DevOps content marketing team to guide them through high-quality OKR authoring, disciplined and thoughtful check-ins, and humble scoring to seed the continuous learning cycle.

“The drive and excitement to replicate this success became contagious,” Adam says. “I’ve had people approach me asking if they can take part and use OKRs with their team. We’ve always had a horizontal team structure, meaning every employee contributes ideas and no one is valued over another simply because of title. This made it easier to further empower teams.”

Despite the “viral effect” of OKRs and Ally.io, Adam is “very careful” about how it’s discussed and implemented within the organization. The goal, he says, is to continue to focus on the fundamentals rather than talking up tech as a silver-bullet solution. “As someone who’s trying to drive change, I worry about people getting too focused on the tool and have a false sense of victory when they don’t know how to write a good OKR.”

Over time, the goal is to slowly improve OKR strategy and, in turn, the company’s approach to business strategy and innovation. Adam explains that Ally.io “provides a mirror and a self-measurement mechanism at scale. It’s not only helping with decision making and focus; it’s providing continuous measurement of whether our planning discipline is effective or not.”

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