How Google uses the OKR

Google and OKR

Google uses OKR to set goals for the quarter and the year. At Google you can see the OKRs for any team, organization, and product area. You can see what the company strategy is and what they’re doing?

Transparency

With OKRs (goal-setting methodology) you can see if there is another team working on a similar project and say, hey maybe we should collaborate on that project. OKRs also brings ownership to who owns the success of a particular initiative. Now you can go to a team member and rely on them to deliver and say hey, I depend on you, you depend on me. Once again integrating your team and your company together rather than having silos.

For more information contact Zack Ross with your OKR questions or click here for more workshop details.

How to implement OKR for a Saas Company – Podcast

OKR Workshop, Getting started with OKR

In this episode, Arthur Nobel discusses the OKR framework with our guest Zack Ross. How does a Saas company start using the OKR Framework. They touch upon OKR training topics like implementing the OKR framework, do’s and don’ts. How to determine priorities, OKR based compensation, the role that management plays, and more.

Zack Ross is an OKR consultant and the founder of OKRWorkshop.com. He is also a Senior Technical Program Manager at VMware and a Global OKRs Coach and Mentor at Google.

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Topics:

00:00 Background

5:10 Getting Started With OKRs

11:00 Common Challenges When Implementing OKR

14:20 How to Determine Priorities

16:40 Setting OKR Across the Organization

21:00 To What Extent Do CEOs should get involved in defining OKRs?

23:40 How to get Commitment 

29:00 OKR-based Compensations

37:30 Committed OKRs vs. Aspirational OKRs

40:10 How to use this framework in contexts of high uncertainty?

45:00 Tools and Content Recommendations

For more information contact Zack Ross with your OKR questions or click here for more workshop details.

Can OKR change during the quarter?

OKR Workshop, can okr change during the quarter?

OKR changing during a quarter?

Generally speaking, company-level OKRs will not be adjusted during the quarter. But, please welcome back our old friend, “It depends.” There may be circumstances that demand a change in OKRs. One of us was working with the State of New Jersey just prior to Hurricane Sandy devastating parts of the state. In the weeks and months following the disaster, copious changes were made to their performance monitoring systems, reflecting the new reality faced by the many government departments required to provide services.

We’re not suggesting, however, that a natural disaster is necessary to make modifcations to your OKRs (at any level of the company) during a quarter. There are many other possibilities as well. For example: Perhaps you acquired a major new customer who initially demands intense resources from your teams. That could warrant the alteration of your current crop of OKRs. Or, you may decide to make a strategic pivot, which of course would dictate an update to the OKRs as well. What you cannot do is change objectives or key results simply because you feel they are too difficult, or you may have doubts about their efficacy.

Each quarter that you use OKRs, you’re building a muscle, one that grows stronger as you introduce the discipline of setting, monitoring, grading, and most importantly learning from what the key results have to tell you. Frequent changes of OKRs during the quarter may be dressed up as “agility” or adaptive behavior, and in some situations that may be true. But, in most cases it’s simply an unwillingness to commit to the rigor and discipline necessary to strive for better and better OKRs that push the frontiers of knowledge about what really drives your business.

For more information contact Zack Ross with your OKR questions or click here for more workshop details.

How often should we set OKRs?

Zack Ross, OKR Workshop, Google AI Challenge, Google For Startup
Zack Ross, OKR Workshop

Setting OKRs

How frequently you set OKRs is one of the areas you might modify. The default answer to how often you create OKRs is, of course, quarterly.

One of the chief virtues of the model is this rapid rhythm, which ensures enhanced communication and learning throughout each twelve-week period. However, quarterly may not represent the most fitting cadence for your business. Sadly, not all organizations recognize this inherent malleability of the model and we’re aware of some that have abandoned OKRs because they falsely believed they must be set each quarter.

John Doerr – Set OKRs

Let’s read what John Doerr, who you’ll recall introduced OKRs to Google, has to say on the topic:

The key for any team or any group is that you use this on a regular basis. You should pick what frequency is right for you. When Intel was doing them monthly National Semiconductor did them every four weeks so they had thirteen periods in their manufacturing year because they were primarily a manufacturing company…and that was right for their culture. Most companies are quarterly, but some of the more agile firms are saying no, we want to line them up with our sprints or our development schedules. A quarter is too long. Instead of every twelve weeks I’m going to set the timeframe to be every six weeks. Some places choose to do them quarterly and in parallel annually. So I’ve got a set of annual OKRs and then some quarterly ones that I update along the way as well.

As Doerr correctly notes, the key is using OKRs on a regular basis, but of course the word regular may take on a different meaning for you than other companies. He also notes that some organizations will use a combination of both annual and quarterly OKRs. We call this a dual cadence approach.

Dual Cadence

Within organizations using a dual cadence, the company defines a set of annual OKRs and typically breaks this down into a set of OKRs for each quarter. Teams may then create an annual and quarterly set of OKRs or decide to set OKRs only for the upcoming quarter. Among the benefits of the dual cadence is the aid of context provided by establishing annual OKRs. Teams and individuals then possess a direct line of sight from their own OKRs to what the company wishes to realize during the year. In this way, an organization is balancing long-term (annual) strategic priorities with the quarterly victories necessary to meet them. Dual cadence is just one option; there are many others, again depending on the situation in which you find yourself.

What matters most, to quote Doerr’s cogent guidance one more time, is using OKRs on a regular basis.

For more information contact Zack Ross with your OKR questions or click here for more workshop details.