by Jennifer Riggins
The Happy Melly One team has tried OKRs three times now. I’m not a fan and this blogpost explains why. Maybe by the end you can explain to me better their value. Or offer me a more logical alternative in a never-ending search to find motivating and transparent goal-setting.
What is an OKR?
Standing for Objective and Key Results, an OKR is a Management 3.0 Practice and an alternative to the more traditional corporate goal-setting of KPIs (key performance indicators.) Basically it combines qualitative and quantitative goals. For example:
- Objective = an unmeasurable goal phrase, like “Increase brand awareness.”
- Key Results = multiple measurable goals tied to your objective, like “Find and hire best paid marketing person someone by 31 March 2018” and “Create paid marketing plan by end of 30 April”
Last month at our retreat, our team of around ten remote part-time employees set our quarterly team OKRs — four objectives and 14 key results. Then, each teammate sets her or his own objectives that somehow support the team ones, and then, whenever possible, multiple key results to support that objective, usually between two and five.
Objectives are important.
While, as the Spanish say “Soy de letras” — a more eloquent way of saying “I suck at math” — as a marketer and writer, I realize how incredibly powerful goals tied to measurements are. There is a vast misconception that the roles I play are easy and that my creativity (and time) is boundless. Setting and measuring against goals is a great way to quantify what seems overly qualified, to give my work more perceived worth.
I also agree that as a company and as a team, you should set measurable goals so you are moving forward in a common direction. This is as important to my flat team as to a traditional corporate hierarchy. What’s also important is that everyone on a team is part of setting these goals, as well as we set individual goals. Finally, it’s essential that pay and reward systems are absolutely not tied to goals, as that’s known to deplete creativity, innovation, and motivation, plus it’s just rude.
What I do like about our current OKR scheme — if we stick to it and everyone really participates in it (but that’s another remote freelancer team challenge for another day) — is that we revisit our own goals every week, and, ideally, we will revisit the company goals monthly. This means we are measuring our work. I think this is essential to not only stay focused on a shared set of goals and a shared vision, but also that we are just measuring our own work. During the almost one-year transition from Jurgen Appelo as our leader, we were left with a leadership vacuum. We didn’t set 2017 goals and I think it left us more running the engine rather than moving forward together.
And particular to our team, I think it’s also important that we test out all the Management 3.0 Practices that we can, but we can, but that doesn’t mean we have to commit to them all.
Get to know more practices during a Management 3.0 Foundation Workshop