When it comes to implementing OKRs, it’s important to understand that they need to be aligned with your organisation’s overall strategy and structure. This can be challenging, especially when cascading the objectives down from leadership to the rest of the organisation. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to identify alignment issues in your ops model with OKRs and what you can do about it.
The OKR manual states that objectives should be top-down, meaning that the leadership team defines the high-level objectives, and the rest of the organisation aligns their objectives to these. However, one of the most common issues is that when trying to cascade these objectives down, organisations often run into problems that prevent them from achieving the desired results. This is because the way the organisation is structured may not allow it to achieve the desired OKRs.
Let’s take a simple example of a bank that offers loans in branch, online, and via the call-centre. The digital leadership team decides that the OKR is to achieve $10 million in loans online. However, the product group quickly pushes back, saying that online is just one avenue that the customer uses in the journey to take out a loan. This means that achieving the desired sales figure may not be possible unless the organisation changes its structure or approach.
I have seen other examples where a team has an OKR that they only partially own with other groups, outside of their system having part ownership. Again, this can also be a problem as the business may not be structured to achieve the given objective.
In many cases, the organisation is structured to improve output, but with OKRs, we are moving from an output to an outcome way of thinking. If you’re in an adaptive environment, with complex products, it’s likely that you are focused on outcomes more than output. In this case, defining OKRs may end up in a journey to restructure your operating model.
The key to addressing these issues is to recognise them early and take steps to adapt and change. By understanding the limitations of their current structure, organisations can promote a culture of continuous improvement. This not only helps to achieve the desired OKRs but also promotes a more agile, responsive culture.
To quickly identify alignment issues in your ops model with OKRs, it’s important to involve all levels of the organisation in the OKR process. Instead of just defining the objectives at the top and cascading them down, the organisation can involve all levels in setting and aligning their objectives to the overall goals. This promotes a sense of ownership and accountability and helps to identify potential issues early on.
It’s also important to communicate the OKRs effectively and regularly throughout the organisation, so that everyone understands the role they play in achieving them. By aligning their OKRs with their overall strategy and involving all levels of the organisation in the process, organisations can achieve their desired results and promote a more agile, responsive culture.
In conclusion, implementing OKRs can be a challenge, especially when trying to cascade them down from leadership to the rest of the organisation. However, by understanding the limitations of their current structure, organisations can adapt and change in a more effective way and promote a culture of continuous improvement. By involving all levels of the organisation in the OKR process and aligning them with their overall strategy, organisations can achieve their desired results and promote a more agile, responsive culture