The Timing of OKRs

If you have looked over my radical focus OKR approach and are ready to put into place OKR’s, you’ll want to plan out the timing for implementation. Assuming you’ve done a training (or done your research), and everyone understands and is on board for OKRs, this is my recommended approach:

  1. All employees submit the Objective they think the company should pursue next quarter.  This increases buy-in for the OKRs and provides interesting insight into the health of the company culture.
    If the company is big, this can go to their boss, and roll up, or can be in a survey, or be collected and correlated by consultant and given to the exec team.
  2. Exec team, in a half-day session, discusses the Objectives proposed. They choose one. This requires debate and compromise, and deserves plenty of time.
    The team also sets the KR’s. For more details, see a meeting to set OKRs
    I have seen teams set OKRs in as little as a 90 minute meeting. Things that make setting OKR setting slow include putting off the meeting, skipping the homework and refusing to make decisions. These are HR issues, and should be addressed by management. Your company goal is your company’s life.  Commit.
  3. Exec homework: introduce the OKR for quarter to their directs, and have them develop department OKRs. This also should be done in a 2-4 hour meeting with the department head and her team.
  4. CEO approval. ~1 hr, plus follow-up discussions if any department heads are way off base.  Set aside an entire day for focusing on this.
  5. Department head gives leads the Company and department OKRs to any subteams, and teams develop their own.
  6. Optional: If company is doing individual OKRs, set them now. Individual OKRs are approved by the manager.
    This is a great coaching moment! Go over the OKR in a 1;1, do not just do it by email.
  7. All hands meeting in which CEO discusses why the OKR is what it is for that quarter, and calls out a few exemplary ones set by directs. As well, covers last quarters OKRs, and points out a few key wins from the quarter.  Keep tone positive, and determined.

This is the standard rhythm you will keep from quarter to quarter going forward. If you cannot set OKRs in less than two weeks, you will want to examine your priorities. Nothing is more critical than setting a goal for the company to rally behind.

If you have been running a regular commitment and celebration cadence then you should be able to determine if you have made or wiffed your OKRs two weeks before the end of the quarter.  Don’t lie to yourself that you might pull a rabbit out of a hat in those last two weeks. Only the occasional miracle can help you hit a truly hard goal in such a short time. No reason to put off the inevitable. Admit you have missed a KR, or admit you set a KR too low and hit it too easy. Get that learning, and roll it into your next goal setting exercise.

OKRs are about continuous improvement and learning cycles. They are not about making check marks in a list.

So you didn’t hit any of your KRs. Ask yourself why, and fix it.

So you hit them all? Set harder goals, and move on.

Focus on learning, getting smarter and having better things to celebrate every Friday.



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