5 requirements for successful OKR implementation in large enterprises

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Small companies, especially start-ups, have a reputation for quick decision-making and a certain “doer” mindset. The larger a company becomes, the more difficult it is to implement change. But large organizations also have a need for development and the integration of new, agile working methods into their daily work. So, how can companies succeed when they have to introduce the goal-setting method OKR to countless teams? In this article, we will show you a list of five essentials when it comes to successful OKR implementation.

Requirement 1: Starting at the management level

Whether the introduction of OKRs into a company is successful depends primarily on the organization’s leadership. Only when the organization’s leaders approach the topic with passion and engagement is its urgency clearly conveyed across all teams. This will get everyone excited about it.

For large companies, implementing OKRs into the work process brings a number of benefits but also challenges and changes. Leadership has the opportunity to approach the process with full motivation and lead by example, exemplifying the new values they would like to develop through the work models

That means a manager’s task is to motivate all employees and remove any obstacles that may arise, paving the way for successful implementation of the goal-setting framework. This includes clearly communicating the added value of the OKR implementation.

Requirement 2: Planning enough time and capacity

It is not possible to introduce OKRs into large companies overnight. It requires a specific amount of time for them to become firmly anchored into the everyday work routine. To ensure the process runs successfully, it is essential to understand the time and manpower needed. This is especially true at the start of the planning process, but it is just as necessary for the future execution of the OKRs.

Ambitious goals are certainly desirable to ensure the project does not fizzle out over time. With that said, it is essential that time and capacity are assessed realistically. If the implementation leads to a drastic increase of required effort without recognizable, positive results for the employees, team members will have a negative impression of OKRs from the get-go.

Requirement 3: Finding the best path for your company

This leads seamlessly to the next item on the list: finding what works best for your organization. Before the introduction of OKRs can begin, it is important to establish how the implementation will be carried out. Step by step or all at once?

Gradual introduction can be done with the help of a small-scale pilot project that can help everyone understand the function of OKRs and slowly introduce teams to the topic. After initial success, the topic can be expanded to other departments until the entire company is working with the goal-setting method. The advantage here is that nobody is thrown into the deep end and can adjust to the method slowly. The disadvantage, however, is it can take quite a while before every team member is working at the same skill level. In addition, teams that already know OKRs work better together than those who have just been introduced to the method and need time to get used to it.

If the decision is made for an immediate introduction, a great deal of engagement is required from leadership. They need to be there for their employees throughout the process and set a good example. The basic features of the corporate culture also need to be modern and open to new things. With this method, every employee needs to be on board. If any part of the staff is pulling in a different direction, the risk of project failure is a real possibility.

Requirement 4: Obtaining the right skills

This, of course, leads to the next item on the list: ensuring the proper skills needed to implement OKRs.

In addition to engagement—from the interns up to the management level—those with experience in the field are also an essential success factor. These experts can be brought in internally or externally. So, which employees have the necessary skills and expertise for the introduction of OKRs? Through transparent communication across all teams, it is possible to find those in your own teams who have the necessary skill set.

There are also external experts that can help guide and support companies during implementation. They are available to provide help and advice at all times and bring technical tools with them that can help perfect the work with OKRs. With its Enterprise tool, Workpath has been guiding organizations in strategy execution with OKRs for years. Experts from the Munich-based company will be with you throughout the entire journey, supporting you along the way as you successfully introduce OKRs into your company.


Requirement 5: Taking the first step!

All in all, it can be said that the successful introduction of OKRs depends on the entire company team (especially at the management level). Only when management sets a good example will all other employees be motivated to join them on the journey. External experts, such as Workpath, round out the group of responsible individuals who lay out the path leading to an agile company with modern goal-setting methods.

In addition to the plans and arrangements that need to be taken into account, there is one other requirement that stands out above all the others when it comes to successfully implementing OKRs into your company—namely, getting started. No matter how small they may be, every step you take gets you one step closer to your goal.