A clearly defined OKR process with regular events to plan, align, update, reflect and adjust is the heart of a successful agile goal and performance management system. Workpath’s standard cycle is designed for organizations to start implementing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). From there, every company needs to develop and refine the process to their needs and requirements in order to optimize adoption, engagement and efficiency. Timing, agenda, and frequency of retrospectives or Check-Ins can vary and be adjusted.
If you want to know more about the OKR framework, take a look at our article "Objectives and Key Results (OKR) - A Definition"
A successful OKR cycle requires frequent communication with repeated explanations and invitations. As program owner, make sure every stakeholder clearly understands what is expected at which time from them. Schedule sessions one quarter in advance and make sure they are already added to everyone’s calendar. Work with posters, announcements during company events and reminder mails.
An event-driven process will help you to structure the OKR cycle and engage all employees in open and tangible conversations. Ceremonies that suit your organization’s culture can help making agile goal management a habit and part of your colleague’s routine. Celebrate highlights like the OKR kick-off or goal achievements in order to strengthen motivation and team spirit.
Expect and embrace difficulties while implementing the OKR process. It is important to understand that OKRs are designed to identify challenges and inefficiencies in your organization. Hence, the OKR process is meant to be refined and it will take 1.5-2 years until a well-run process is fully established. Insist on structured reviews and retrospectives to discuss challenges and gain actionable learnings to build on.
Announce Organizational Priorities
Until three weeks before a new cycle starts, the executive team works on a guiding set of top company priorities for the next quarter. Depending on the situation, these priorities can either be just giving rough directions or come as a set of more detailed OKR drafts already. They are then publicly shared within the organization.
All teams now discuss their own priorities and how they can contribute to the guiding company goals. Accordingly, they draft their team OKRs and assign owners. Ownership and team constellations derive from the skills and resources needed to achieve an OKR.
All OKR owners, OKR masters, the executive team and the owners of important company initiatives and metrics meet to screen, align, discuss, prioritize and allocate resources to the OKR drafts.
Knowing the scope and the responsibilities of OKRs, the teams internally discuss and iterate on their pre-final Objectives and Key Results that will be presented at the kickoff.
FINAL WORKSHOP & OKR KICK OFF
The participants of the Alignment Workshop meet again to assess and refine the pre-final OKRs. The executive team then decides on the final OKR set. Finally, the OKR owners present the final OKRs to the entire organization during the official OKR kick-off event. Most companies turn their OKR kickoff into a celebration with all colleagues in order to strengthen team spirit and excitement for the next cycle.
The teams, internally and between leads and OKR owners, discuss how to improve the process and collaboration around OKRs in the retrospective. This conversation is about the gaps between OKR planning and achievement and about how to further refine the process and increase performance. Also, the teams try to carve out what they should start, stop and continue doing. Some companies do a second retrospective shortly before the kickoff where they focus on learnings and improvements for the next planning.
OKR progress and achievements of the current cycle are assessed and documented. Usually, this is not too early to evaluate if an OKR is a success. If there are goals and topics that need further attention, the results of this review meeting are used to draft goals for the new cycle in the following OKR workshops. Most organizations present the results at the next company event.