I have been working with introducing OKR:s and advising in OKR & QBR implementations in several large organisations lately, and what a powerful tool they can be when used right. During the talk I will share a few insights on the challenges people have had in the process, and how we can help overcome them.
Here are a few notes on the subject:
Objectives and Key Results
Instead of cascading all over the organisation like the old objectives did OKR:s does imply an hierarchy between different levels. Sure, we like to see that the operative objectives are somehow related to the strategic direction management want to take with their objectives, but not necessarily all of them.
Instead, we move the authority to were the information is, by asking the organisation what they can and would like to do in order to achieve our goals. Questions are powerful, and a very successful way of reaching alignment and common insights.
Instead of reviewing our goals and achievements annually, we set them quarterly and revisit and retrospect our OKR:s regulary on a biweekly or monthly basis. By changing into having shorter learning cycles we can decide to adapt, pivot or change focus earlier and more often. A fair warning here, many organisations fail in introducing an open, fair and regular review process for their OKR:s unfortunately. Making the whole process pretty useless IMHO.
Instead of aiming for a 100% completion rate of our goals, we aim high but we do not expect more than a 60-80% hit rate or completion of our OKR:s. And yes, we are not measured or compensated on our ability to reach our objectives – when we are we aim for the wrong kind of predictability and who would dare to stretch under those circumstances?
So, Business Agility: The ability of a customer centric organisation as a whole to respond and adapt rapidly to market changes and new customer demands in a productive and efficient manner to maintain and strengthen their competitive advantage.
That’s how I would try to summarise Business Agility very shortly. And here’s how it’s described in SAFe in a new edition to the knowledge base: Business Agility in SAFe 5.0 .
OKR:s and SAFe
The current Lean Portfolio Management course finally introduces OKR:s in SAFe, and suggests that organisations would benefit from expressing their strategic themes as OKR:s. I think that’s the right way to go, especially since quite a few enterprises are doing that already. If you haven’t seen that course yet, you can see see how OKR:s are described in the Strategic Themes article in SAFe 5.0.
It seems feasible and definitely safe enough to try!