Think Big, Start Small

I would recommend not doing a big launch for OKRs. In older, larger, more complex organisations there is a tendency to interpret OKRs as just traditional strategic goals and objectives but with new terminology. I’ve seen this happen a lot. I find it is better not to spend time trying to convince traditional thinkers about OKRs and instead just start using them on a small scale. I’ve had success where I’ve used them for a small autonomous team - to reduce pressure for corporate waterfall style reporting and focus instead on value at regular intervals. I find OKRs are very good for strengthening the team. A weekly checkin with the team to figure out if we’re progressing against the objectives is a healthy exercise for a team. I avoid giving responsiblity for OKRs to a delivery or project manager. I find it works better if you define OKRs as a team exercise and monitor them as a team exercise. This encourages team behaviours and no longer rewards individualistic or heroic tendencies. I’ve found setting OKRs to be useful when in a 6-8 week value cycle. There is enough headspace and sufficient tension to alow the team to maintain focus on the objectives they defined at the outset. Once the value cycle is complete you start all over again, carry forward things that were delayed, create new ones for more value and define at least one which is a bit of a hail Mary. It’s interesting to see how the team reacts when they hit a hail Mary once in a while. Finally, I tend to brief the team up front not to expect great things from the first cycle because the team needs to calibrate their ability and the influence of their team dynamic on the quality of the OKRs, so the first attempt is usually underwhelming.