How to Prevent the Best Laid Plans from Falling Apart
Does this sound familiar?
Management goes on their quarterly offsite. Various forms of the Mission, Vision, Values, Strategy, Goals, Objectives, target KPIs and the Plan are determined. There’s a company presentation and links to relevant docs are sent out.
3 weeks later, no-one remembers where to find the relevant docs, and everyone goes back to doing what they were doing before.
But you know all of that. The question is whether you know how to fix it?
Doing so involves Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, and we’ve crafted an entire e-Book to help you make sense of all this.
So, consider this a starting point, and because we know you like steps to check-off your list of things to do, we have six of them for you:
Step 1: Identify a Champion who Owns the Process
We feel strongly in imbuing a single person-you might call them the OKR champion-with owning the process itself. Work to identify someone who is going to ensure that the process is followed, done well and best practices are maintained. It won’t surprise you that we believe this role is best assumed by a Chief of Staff, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Operating Officer, or similar role.
Step 2: Develop a Playbook to Define the Purpose and Provide Clarity
In order to ensure that everyone is on the same page, we encourage you to develop a playbook. What does this involve? Typically the champion identified in step one will own the playbook, as well as the process itself. The playbook will delineate how you're going to use OKRs in your organization and where you introduce your goals or OKR discussion into the cadence of your regular meetings.
Step 3: Cascade Goals Top-Down, While Supporting OKRs From the Bottom-up
You must address the planning cycle itself and some of the challenges around actually setting goals and what you can run into there. We feel it's important to have a simultaneous top down and bottom-up goal setting process (or goal cascading). Ideally, the OKR system is built to empower, and provide guidance, context and direction.
Step 4: Emphasize the Why In Addition to the How
Properly written key results can empower autonomy. When writing your OKRs, state what the finish point is and allow people to work at how they get to it. Remember to be patient, this takes time and it’s generally around nine months before organizations start to consistently see outcome focus and key results.
Step 5: Set the Right Cadence for Both Planning and Performance
When it comes to the right frequency of goal setting, most organizations feel that this is a quarterly business process, but a lot of teams struggle with that and they lack rigor around when a planning cycle begins and ends. This is where it really pays dividends to have regular check-ins and to use data to help inform your predictions about where you might finish.
Step 6: Drive Innovation (And Embrace Failure)
Once you get into a rhythm of planning and executing OKRs, look to drive innovation by trying new things, finding new ideas and going in new directions. Focus on failure and how people adapt it, also known as Adaptive Performance, which is widely regarded as the aspect of an individual's performance that sets them apart from their peers.