Companies are experiencing a diverse set of issues and challenges stemming from the lack of transparency with regards to their strategy. Let‘s take a look at what they are and how OKR can help to solve them.
If you are not yet familiar with the OKR framework, take a look at our article "Objectives and Key Results (OKR) - A Definition"
1. The challenge of making strategy visible for everyone
No one knows your strategy. How can it then be executed effectively? In one of their research projects, MIT Sloan uncovered that not even 30% of executives and managers could name three of their company’s strategic priorities. Quite naturally, many companies experience similar phenomenons on a team level.
Why? Oftentimes strategy and strategic priorities on company level are simply not transparent and accessible for the majority of the organization. Or it is just too difficult to get an easy overview of them, because they are scattered across diverse documents, powerpoint presentations and confluence pages.
OKR can make strategy visible for everyone. Organizational OKRs ensure that the top company priorities are clear and accessible to everyone. Team level OKRs help you to see how these translate into priorities for different departments, product areas, etc. and what they work on to achieve them.
A dedicated OKR tool ensures an easy, intuitive overview for everybody in the organization about organizational priorities as well as those from each team. It also provides you with transparency over past cycles to see the development of strategic priorities and what things did and did not work to achieve them.
2. Transparent dependencies to create alignment
It is unclear who you need to align with to achieve your goals. When dependencies are not transparent, it usually results in double work, lost synergies or worse, teams working against each other. But unclear dependencies are not just an issue across teams but also across hierarchies.
Much effectiveness of your strategy execution is lost if you do not make sure that interdependent goals fully support each other. In the worst case, subordinate goals do not contribute to higher level goals at all and your strategic goals will not be achieved.
OKR can make dependencies transparent. Across teams as well as hierarchies, they can help to align successfully. This improves collaboration drastically and will drive the effectiveness of your work. Moreover, the right tool can increase this alignment process a lot. Making alignment less time consuming and ensuring it across the entire cycle.
3. Having the right information available to react to change fast
Companies are slow to course correct. To course correct fast in times of constant change, you need transparency about what is working and what is not, early in the process. Often, it takes time until information trickles up, decisions are made at the top that then have to trickle down again.
OKRs provide all teams with the right information to make sound but fast decisions. With them, every team is aware of the current status of their goal achievement all the time. They know which initiatives move the needle of their goal progress and which don‘t. This allows them to shift their focus fast to what is most effective. A software like Workpath makes it even more easy to connect and visualize the relationship of initiatives and goals. It also provides you with easy-consumable, actionable insight.
If there is a bigger change affecting teams, they get this information early since they are aligned with teams of higher level goals as well as the teams supporting their very own goal.
4. Providing a clear big picture for all employees
Teams‘ full potential is not leveraged. If teams do not have transparency about what their work actually contributes to it is hard for them to bring in their own ideas and additional efforts to create the best results. This can furthermore decrease a company‘s innovation potential.
OKRs can empower teams. Knowing which higher level goal their work is contributing to can spur motivation. Seeing and understanding the connections between a team‘s work and impact, but also the connection to other teams can spark cross-functional collaboration, new ideas and maybe even the next big product innovation. Moreover, having transparency about the overall progress of an organization towards its goals, can foster trust among employees.
Having the big picture, better routines and the right information available, empowers more strategic thinking and decision-making in teams. With the right OKR tool, dependencies, shared goals, corresponding initiatives and progress reports can be aggregated and visualized to provide the full picture.