Perspectives on the OKR marketplace and the challenges facing organizations as they enter the OKR adoption journey
Koan is thrilled to announce our new partner, Atruity, a trusted OKR consultancy focused on implementing successful OKR programs. Atruity is defined as a community of trusted advisors, and they have created an OKRs Q&A Podcast dedicated to providing open and informed discussions about all things OKRs. Tim Meinhardt, President and CEO of Atruity, and host of the podcast was recently joined by Koan CRO and co-founder, Scott Campbell, for an interesting discussion about all things OKRs. Here are a few highlights from the conversation:
Q: How do you perceive the state of the OKR marketplace today, both in the United States and globally?
A: There are a variety of different goal management methodologies that are available in the marketplace today. OKRs have accelerated in terms of adoption throughout the world, particularly in technology, but we're starting to see it evolve within other industries including healthcare, financial services, and real estate. And it is a worldwide phenomenon, and at Koan we have customers in just about every region around the globe.
Q: How does software bring together an OKR program?
A: It’s a common tale, where an organization adopts OKRs and begins managing their goals using spreadsheets. But we’ve found that it doesn't scale very well. Having a shared document where you've got limited edit rights, limited access throughout the organization just inhibits the ability to get input from a variety of different individuals that are responsible for attaining those types of goals. Using software (particularly Koan) enables organizations to scale the OKR methodology effectively. Not only do you get a much better version of a spreadsheet, but you also can have discussion threads associated with goals. You can involve everyone that's contributing to goals for your organization in the collaborative elements around that.
Q: In your working with organizations, what do you think are some of the larger challenges that they face when they're putting together an OKR program and actually getting it to launch successfully?
A: Implementing OKRs correctly and effectively into your organization is no easy feat, and you’ll face some challenges along the way. At a broad level, we see OKR implementations fail for several reasons.
The number one way implementations fail is when people just ‘set it and forget it.’ OKRs require a commitment of time and effort and it’s important to establish a cadence of regular checkpoints to examine progress.
In order to get broad adoption and enablement throughout the organization, you need to train the staff appropriately. As part of gaining buy-in, training on OKRs as a methodology is helpful, providing background into the "whys and hows" OKRs will be implemented specifically in your company. Educating and including everyone on OKRs will be essential to its success within the organization.
Another common stumbling block is to make OKRs to-do lists. Many teams tend to turn OKRs into a date-driven task list related to outputs, but ultimately, it won’t ensure the desired outcome. Knowing what outcomes you want to achieve leads to the projects required to achieve them. Don’t overspecify. A watertight plan at the start of the process will choke out creativity and innovation as new information becomes available down the line.
Finally, it's important to remember that OKRs are a constant learning process. Commonly, teams don’t review the previous quarter’s OKR results and just move ahead to the next quarter. This is a missed opportunity to dig into growth opportunities and take time to see all of the progress that has been made as a team. It’s also an opportunity to adjust OKRs based on the current needs of the business.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about Koan and what makes your software stand out from some of the other OKR programs that are on the marketplace today?
A: Koan’s foundation is built around collaboration and how to enable teams to work better together. We believe that a collaborative approach to goals fosters transparency and visibility, helps organizations stay aligned, and improves efficiency. Built on the foundation of collaboration are the three pillars of Koan: Teams, Reflections (or weekly updates), and Insights.
Teams are where your organization’s work gets done and great things happen. Fostering teamwork and communication among teams enhances productivity, transparency and alignment. Teams need to involve all stakeholders in goal progress to ensure they regularly collaborate and communicate.
Reflections (or Weekly Status Updates) not only keep things moving, but build good habits, set a consistent cadence across the organization, and provide visibility and transparency across everyone’s work and priorities, and at every level of the organization.
Insightful qualitative and quantitative data provide clarity, which allows you to work smarter and make better decisions. Visibility into this data keeps teams moving in the right direction together. And the integration of qualitative and quantitative insights inform good decision making.
Q: How does Koan fit into some of the most popular sales programs like Salesforce, Jira, and Slack?
A: A common question we get is “I have to integrate another tool into our workflow?” There are so many software tools out there. We get it. We’re going to meet you where you already work today. Koan is deeply integrated with hundreds of tools, including Jira, Slack, so you can track your goals easily and keep them as part of the regular conversation.
If you would like to hear the podcast episode, feel free to listen via your favorite podcast platform: Apple, Spotify, or Google.
And if you haven’t already, check out the OKRs Q&A Podcast, with plenty of other conversation about OKRs, OKR success stories, challenges, advice, tips, and anything related to the OKR journey.