How DB Schenker uses OKR to achieve its goals faster and more efficiently

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Executive summary

More effective strategy execution across multiple countries

DB Schenker introduced the OKR framework in collaboration with Workpath to implement its strategy more effectively across multiple countries. This outcome-oriented approach has significantly improved transparency, goal achievement and speed of execution within the company.

An analysis of the data from the Workpath platform showed that:

Experienced OKR teams steadily increase their target achievement - by almost 20% over 4 cyclesTeams with good planning behaviour in the OKR cycle had a 17% higher goal achievement rateThe results of the latest employee survey confirm this picture. Of the 225 respondents, 70% were convinced of the benefits of OKRs for executing their roadmaps.
Helmut Schweighofer, CEO Region Europe, DB Schenker
Helmut Schweighofer
CEO Region Europe, DB Schenker

After being in different leadership roles for many years in the dynamic world of logistics at DB Schenker, I've learned that success isn't just about moving goods—it's about moving minds. OKRs empower us to transform strategy into action, shift our focus from outputs to outcomes, and align priorities seamlessly. By cascading these OKR, we unlock the true potential of our international teams, turning aspirations into achievements on every route we navigate.

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About DB Schenker

DB Schenker: "Innovative supply chain solutions"

76,600 employees | 1,850 locations | 27.5 billion euros in revenue

With around 76,600 employees at over 1,850 locations in more than 130 countries, DB Schenker is one of the world's leading logistics service providers. The company offers land transportation, air and sea freight as well as comprehensive logistics solutions and global supply chain management from a single source.

The company is continuously investing in innovative transportation solutions, renewable energies and more environmentally friendly products for its customers in order to achieve the ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2040.

DB Schenker employees at the dock

The challenge

Global strategy integration

In order to better connect the global strategy with local implementation, DB Schenker searched for new ways to better link strategy, goals, performance indicators and the operational work of the teams. In this way, three optimization potentials were to be realized.

1. More stringent prioritization in everyday work based on strategic topics

In order not to lose focus on the implementation of the strategy in the hectic day-to-day business, which is often characterized by dealing with ad hoc requests, the work of the teams had to be more closely aligned with the strategic priorities.

In the air freight organization, we are often heavily involved in day-to-day operations. This makes it difficult to focus on strategic priorities.
VP Airfreight, DB Schenker

2. Stronger outcome orientation

A stronger focus on outcomes should help teams and departments to focus their work on measurable results (outcomes) rather than effort (outputs). In this way, DB Schenker wanted to make it easier for management to assess the effectiveness of projects and derive targeted measures for more efficient business management.

Before we introduced OKRs, our projects were delayed by too many priorities, which meant that we could not focus clearly on the outcomes and had no transparency on progress.
Head of IT&D, DB Schenker

3. Better understanding of the team's contribution to the strategy and the overarching goals

In order to promote alignment between the different levels of the organization, the aim was to create clarity about how the work of the teams contributes to the organization's goals. In this way, DB Schenker wanted to better identify and eliminate inefficiencies in resource allocation and collaboration.

Managing multiple business units at DB Schenker is very complex. Therefore, before the introduction of OKRs, it was difficult to ensure that they were all aligned with the company's objectives.
Head of IT&D, DB Schenker

The solution

Creating an outcome-oriented strategy execution process with OKR

The introduction of the framework was intended to realize the potential described and close the gap between strategy and execution. The following advantages in particular were the deciding factors for the introduction of OKRs.

Increased customer & outcome focus

by establishing an outcome-oriented work process with a focus on customer added value and defining suitable metrics for measuring the effectiveness of projects.

More effective alignment and collaboration

through exchange between teams/departments and functions (breaking down silos) and transparency about the goals of other business units.

Linking/coordination of activities (outputs) and strategy (outcomes)

and thus a more efficient prioritization of the teams' work.

Consistent monitoring of goal achievement

through regular progress reviews in check-ins, which contributes to a more effective execution of the strategy and projects.

Starting with the management team around DB Schenker Europe CEO Helmut Schweighofer, OKRs were first rolled out broadly and then deeply within the organization. It was important to sufficiently empower employees through training and support from OKR Champions. An OKR manual provided the necessary guidance for the individual process steps. Nevertheless, it was important to give the teams a certain amount of freedom in the speed of the rollout.

By communicating rollout progress and implementation successes transparently and integrating OKR discussions into existing review formats, the relevance of OKR was made clear and broad support for the rollout was gained.

Initially, OKRs were perceived as extra work, but soon the regular monitoring of progress was seen as very valuable. Also, we have a great team that thinks and acts as a group - then it is easy to set common goals to achieve the best result for the organization.
Linehaul Manager, DB Schenker

The Workpath software supported this new process with an intuitive tool that involved all the teams contributing to the logistics giant's strategy implementation. It enabled DB Schenker to link the most important goals, metrics and initiatives on one platform. In addition, simple visualizations and holistic reporting helped to increase the transparency of strategic priorities and make the teams' contributions to the overarching goals visible.

Dominik Borgel, Head of Strategic Projects Region Europe, DB Schenker
Dominik Borgel
Head of Strategic Projects Region Europe, DB Schenker

The high level of user-friendliness and intuitive use were decisive for the rapid adoption by the teams.

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The result

Successes at DB Schenker

DB Schenker was able to effectively support its teams with OKR and Workpath and thus achieve several improvements.

OKRs help teams to focus on the most important things and set priorities.

This sharpening of the team's focus leads to more effective execution of the strategy and ensures that priorities are not lost in the operational business. Over time, there is a learning effect that ensures that teams become more outcome-driven from quarter to quarter.

This is also shown by the latest survey of 244 employees:


Compared to the last survey, the assessment that teams are better able to focus on their priorities throughout the cycle has increased from 50% to 68% of respondents (April 2022 vs. June 2023)!

Employees can therefore see that the benefits of the framework are becoming more and more apparent over time. This is also reflected in the Workpath Platform data.


It was found that more mature teams were able to increase their target achievement with OKRs by almost 20% in the first four cycles.

Teams that apply the OKR framework over a longer period of time have therefore increased their performance and effectiveness. By applying the OKR process over the long term, DB Schenker improves its productivity and competitiveness, which contributes to the company's sustainable success. This is an additional incentive for the organization to continuously apply OKR.

OKRs help us as a team to better focus on a few important issues and ensure that these do not get lost in urgent operational problems.
VP Airfreight, DB Schenker
Dominik Borgel, Head of Strategic Projects Region Europe, DB Schenker
Dominik Borgel
Head of Strategic Projects Region Europe, DB Schenker

We chose Workpath because it is not only an easy-to-use tool, but we also have a collaborative partner at our side. Workpath provides us with a wealth of knowledge, training and - especially for me as Program Lead - a very supportive working relationship.

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The OKR process has improved transparency within the company.

This transparency has laid the foundation for vertical and horizontal alignment, enabling DB Schenker to link its local work with its global strategy.


This assessment is also shared by employees, as the most recent survey showed. The proportion of those who believe that the teams recognize OKR dependencies at an early stage has risen from 38% to 56% (April 2022 vs. June 2023).

The majority also believe that teams are now talking more about collaboration in general:

The teams discussed more about how they can work together to achieve common goals.

DB Schenker employee survey (June 2023)
OKRs and Workpath brought everyone involved together on one platform. This promoted collaboration and transparency, which led to better coordination, especially in our matrix organizational structure.
Head of IT&D, DB Schenker

OKRs were able to increase the speed of strategy execution through improved goal setting and measurability of strategic initiatives.

The success of strategic initiatives used to be difficult to track, which made management and planning more difficult. With the help of measurable key results, DB Schenker can identify and solve problems at an early stage and thus continuously accelerate the cycle from strategy formulation to execution and achieve results faster.


Workpath Platform data confirms that teams that prepare effectively and fully apply the OKR framework have a 17% higher goal achievement.

By using metrics to measure the status of the individual routes, we have created the necessary transparency to identify existing errors and problems at an early stage and solve them in a targeted manner. The solution to our problems was perfectly supported by the Project Management Office.
Head of IT&D, DB Schenker


Insights from practice

There were also some interesting qualitative findings related to the implementation and use of the OKRs.

General conditions

To ensure buy-in and adaptation of the framework, the connection between OKRs and other management tools and processes should be considered and explained from the outset. At best, OKR is integrated into the existing structures, meetings and processes. DB Schenker achieved this by introducing OKR reporting at European top management level, which made both the progress and the commitment of the teams transparent. Another basic prerequisite is that there is clarity throughout the company about the strategy and medium-term goals.


The implementation of OKRs requires continuous adaptation of the OKR process - there is no "off-the-shelf" solution. In the last three years alone, the process has been adapted several times, partly in the implementation of events such as alignment, but also in the length of the cycles. Another important success factor is the exchange between colleagues ("first follower" / P2P exchange) and multipliers. It is therefore also advisable to establish a community of OKR experts ("OKR champions" at DB Schenker) who support the teams in their work with OKRs and regularly share their experiences with each other.

OKRs = Training

The effective application of OKRs requires constant practice. It is not enough to introduce the framework once - the methodology must be actively lived and practiced.

OKRs are not a reporting template, but rather a way of behaving (outcome orientation in thinking and behavior) that takes time to establish. Discipline and practice are therefore very important at the beginning, as employees only really experience the added value of OKRs through application. You should not always strive for perfection, but rather display a certain pragmatism.


Feedback and future plans

According to an internal survey, almost 70% of the employees surveyed are now convinced of the value of OKRs for the execution of their roadmaps!

I’m fully convinced from the value of OKRs to execute our roadmaps.

DB Schenker employee survey (June 2023)

But despite these successes, DB Schenker's OKR journey is far from over. The aim is to roll out OKR and Workpath further in order to ensure uniform strategy execution throughout the company.

Dominik Borgel, Head of Strategic Projects Region Europe, DB Schenker
Dominik Borgel
Head of Strategic Projects Region Europe, DB Schenker

The introduction and application of the OKR framework is not a process that is ever completed. It is more like a gym that should be visited regularly and continuously to maintain and improve the health of the company.

Up to this point, we at DB Schenker have built up a small gym. Now we need to fill it with many more motivated employees.

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