Daily, more and more companies are recognizing the growing disparity between their business strategy and the operational demands put on their teams. We’ve all been there when the last-minute deadline, urgent fire drill, or competing priority comes swooping in to disrupt our workflow—throwing us off track. This unfortunate scenario is an all too common problem that pulls teams in competing directions and has them inadvertently working against the growth and success of the company.
This unfortunate realization shines the light on a systemic problem, so many companies face while struggling to execute their business strategy. According to a recent MIT survey of more than 400 global CEOs, the ability to execute strategy was cited as their number-one challenge, ahead of innovation, geopolitical instability, and top-line growth. Moreover, eight out of 10 organizations struggle to implement their strategies. Their teams are unintentionally throttling this success because they don’t clearly understand their goals, and lack the focus needed to help drive strategic execution.
More and more leaders recognize that cross-group and company-wide alignment is essential to accelerating time-to-market, developing differentiated products and services, and designing superior customer experiences. They understand that successful execution requires an alignment between strategic business priorities and the work each employee is doing. Further, employees across teams must be given focus and clarity into overarching strategic priorities, so each individual across the company can better understand how the work they do will contribute, and help the company as a whole, achieve this success.
Business leaders are finding the discipline of Objectives, and Key Results (OKRs) radically refines the division of labor and required tasks, as well as create improved alignment, transparency, and accountability company-wide.
The success of OKRs comes from the top-down, bottom-up alignment of strategic business goals. These goals then cascade down across teams, where managers, their peers, and their reports work together to develop custom objectives and key results that tie directly back to the overarching business strategy. Thus, creating a clearly defined path forward, where everyone knows their role and place.
This motion enhances the propensity for managers to promote simultaneous autonomy and accountability throughout teams. Unified OKRs are the rapid shift that is tearing down reinforced silos, and in turn, promoting cultural environments where cross-functional collaboration and unification are at the epicenter of success.
With more unobstructed visibility into the overarching business objectives, teams take a progressive leap in working together, while stepping off the path of lost control.
By connecting employee goals to organizational objectives, the business provides company-wide visibility and helps dial in the focus and discipline of teams — down to the individual level. Employees can see how their objectives tie into the broader organization’s objectives and how this work is positively impacting that goal.
The use of shared OKRs improves collaboration across functions and helps these employees work together towards the common goal through metric-driven progress reporting. OKRs begin to solve interdependencies and unify competing initiatives. Additionally, it forms greater alignment between teams, groups, departments, and functions to ensure the organization asa whole is working together to execute against key business objectives.
Further, the increase in engagement from bi-directional synergies becomes yet another by-product of the OKR framework. It’s one that is achieved when transparency grants everyone access to each other’s performance to provide a higher level of accountability. This accountability, in turn, drives a higher level of engagement as contributors focus their efforts on meeting the personalized goals they helped create.
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