Burn From Both Ends -Practical Guide To The OKR Planning Process

End Of Quarter Blues

  1. The leadership team is busy defining the new/next quarter’s OKRs. The process of perfection takes forever.
  2. The execution partners((Engineers, Marketing Managers, Sales Associate, etc.) are still sprinting harder to accomplish the current quarters OKRs. They are also waiting patiently (actually restlessly 😉) for the leadership to define the OKRs for the next quarter. In most cases, the OKRs are published 2–3 weeks after the quarter starts.
  3. The Chief Of Staff & the Program Management is doing a balancing act, pushing the leadership team to define next quarter OKRs faster and pushing the executive partners to accomplish the current OKRs.

Hybrid (Top-Down + Bottoms-Up) Approach:

Top-Down Planning Process — Deep Dive

  1. Identify Leadership Council/Group that would be responsible for defining the objectives for the quarter.
  2. Schedule a brain-storming session for the Leadership Council (LC) to discuss the critical priorities of the company for the quarter. The meetings should be no-holds, no-judgment discussions of the direction the company should be heading. Prior to the meetings, members of the leadership council should spend time/effort informing their perspectives driven by high-level conversations with their teams.
  3. The output of the leadership council brain-storming session should be,
  1. One of the members of the Leadership Council can publish the final version of the Objectives, Key Results, and the Owners via an email or a blog.
  2. All-Hands, Townhall meetings are good forums for the Leadership Council to socialize and explain the Objectives, Key Results, and their impact on the company/org.
  3. Create artifacts like intra-net webpages, wiki-pages, dashboards, etc (OR) use OKR planning & execution software tools like Ally.io. This helps provide easy, all-time access to OKR goals definitions, and status.
  1. Regular checkpoint meetings at various levels of the organization would help create accountability and transparency. The OKR team can meet with the Execution Partners regularly to track the progress and help mitigate risks/blockers and devise alternate plans (if required).
  2. The Leadership Council can meet with the OKR team bi-weekly or monthly to track the overall progress and validate if the OKRs still make sense with the change of the business climate. Sometimes scrapping an OKR altogether and strategic re-prioritization is essential.
  3. The OKR team leader should email weekly or bi-weekly to the entire company/org to provide insights into progress, challenges, risks, etc with metrics as a driving point. Using tools as Ally.io would offer integrations with Slack /Email and make communication of OKR change in status and risks seamless.
  4. Defining OKR progress scores and updating them regularly would help track progress quantitatively.
  5. End of quarter review of the OKR goal progress with metrics as a driving point is crucial. It allows the Leadership Council and the OKR Team to discuss and retrospect on gaps, process pain points, and celebrate accomplishments.

Summary

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