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Ryan E. Day

Management

Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Execution

If you’re going to set OKRs, you need to know the FACTS

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 12:03

Business is changing at a faster rate than ever before, forcing companies to find ways to adapt and pivot. Keeping the entire organization aligned with current goals can be a daunting task, but surviving and thriving depends on it.

One popular method to ensure enterprisewide alignment of assets is to develop objectives and key results (OKR). OKRs are popular enough that industry leaders such as Google and Netflix use them to close the gap between their strategy and execution.

If a company’s OKRs are not well defined and highly visible, front-line workers—and management as well—can often shift energy and resources in a direction misaligned with company goals. And when company goals change, OKRs change to reflect the new direction. When OKRs are front and center, manpower can be spent more efficaciously.

Profit.co’s CEO and founder Bastin Gerald, and COO and president Senthil Rajagopalan, have combined their decades of business management experience to author three books offering readers an in-depth understanding of OKR concepts, strategy, and execution.

While OKRs have many benefits, the top five can be summarized with the acronym FACTS. This stands for focus, alignment, commitment, tracking, and stretch. OKRs help teams focus on their top priorities, stay aligned and avoid siloed work with full transparency, fully commit to important targets, closely track progress in an objective manner, and set stretch goals that help them achieve more than they dreamed possible. Together, Gerald and Rajagopalan have crafted this three-part OKR book series to help readers set themselves up for success with this framework.

The first installment of this business management series is Preparing for Your OKR Program (Lulu.com, 2021). In this book, you can find OKR best practices to use during the planning stage of your OKR program. When leaders put time and effort into planning out their OKRs, they will see better results later on. When teams put the effort into learning the ins and outs of OKRs, and commit themselves fully to the framework, companies will see higher-quality work throughout the quarter.

The second part of this series is Launching Your OKR Program (Lulu.com, 2021). This book empowers you with best practices for the first six months of your OKR program. The strategies detailed in this guide enable seamless OKR adoption and execution. This book will help fine-tune a reader’s understanding of the OKR framework, answering questions about KPIs, key result types, as well as alignment and OKR grading. Understanding everything that goes into the management of OKRs is an important part of a successful launch. This book fully prepares business leaders to implement OKRs and successfully manage them throughout the entire quarter.

The final installment of this series, Scaling Your OKR Program (Lulu.com, 2021), offers readers insights on one of the most difficult and most important parts of executing OKRs—how to maintain the quality of an OKR program in a growing company. When the scope of your OKR program expands, the number of high-priority goals your team has naturally grows as well. This book emphasizes that business leaders must remember the core tenets of the OKR program, including transparency. Whether your program is 10 employees or 10,000, success with OKRs will come from your team’s ability to maintain quality at each level of your organization. Additionally, this book outlines common problems that occur in a growing OKR program, and how business leaders can recognize them and root them out. This book also shares the signs of a mature OKR program to help leaders recognize when they’re on the right track with their OKRs.

No matter your organization’s level of familiarity with OKRs, these three books can help you strengthen your understanding of them as well as your company’s ability to close the gap between your strategy and execution.

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About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20 lb tabby cat at his side.

Comments

Stretch Goals

Stretch goals.  I hate that term.  In my experience they're usually set impossibly high by upper management who then does not provide the leadership and resources necessary to achieve them. Later, often at review time, someone has to answer why the goals were not achieved. 

I believe Dr. Deming's point #10 had a few things to say about the subject.

Stretch goals vs poor management

I appreciate your sentiment, Steve. However, to fully appreciate that sentiment, we must take care to avoid conflating separate issues. Namely: • Poorly worded slogans; jingles focusing on outcome rather than process • Numerical goals; again, goals focusing on production numbers rather than production process These issues are based on two of Deming’s points: 10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. 11. Eliminate numerical quotas. But, as Deming put it, “Without data, you're just another person with an opinion.” Combine that with Drucker’s idiom about measurement and improvement, and it seems that WHAT you measure—and with whom you share the data—is more relevant than not having goals at all. One of the measures of manufacturing process efficacy is defect rates. Unless you’re at zero, or an acceptable level, you must determine to reduce the defect rates. Even if that is a trend rather than an arbitrary numerical value, it IS a target and it SHOULD be shared with the workforce. Now, whether management provides said workforce with tools to meet desired improvements is entirely separate from whether there should be improvement targets at all.