Common OKR pitfalls to avoid
You know all about the history of OKRs, you understand the benefits of using OKRs, you’re up to speed with the ins and outs and you’re ready to implement them in your company. Here are my top 5 pitfalls to avoid:
1. Lack of collaboration
You can’t expect to change your organisation overnight and you can’t expect to do it alone. OKRs are meant to be collaborative, open, and transparent.
By bringing your team into the OKR setting process you increase buy in, drive important conversations and often create space to innovate. While the need for this top-down and bottom-up collaboration is well known, the need for lateral alignment isn’t getting anywhere near as much screen time. If the marketing team has OKRs or goals that impact my team (or vice versa), it’s important we’re all aware and agree to them. Or if marketing or sales have specific objectives that are going to take some work from product and development, we should probably collaborate on that!
If this sounds like a messy process, you’re right. It is highly collaborative and hands-on but it’s worth it
2. Not spending enough time setting them
The best leadership takes an active and committed role when it comes to setting strategy and key initiatives. They put in the time and sit around for hours discussing ideas with their top team because they know that an extra day spent planning will reap rewards down the line if executed properly.
Taking the time to plan and discuss OKRs collaboratively with your team is a sign of respect for your colleagues and employees. It means you respect the effort they put into their work and how they spend their time
3. Too many OKRs/key results
Quite often this comes from a lack of understanding on what the company is actually trying to achieve, instead focusing on what features, campaigns or initiatives each team wants to drive forward.
Everything during the OKR process needs to be treated as a tradeoff. The more you can focus, the more successful you’ll be. You’re better off really delivering on a few things that will drive real business change than attempt, and likely fail, to deliver on many things.
You need to narrow down OKRs as much as possible. The more you can narrow initially, the more room you can have when surprises come up along the way.
4. Aiming for perfection
This is especially important when starting to implement OKRs in your business. Fail fast ring any bells? Progress will be better than no success trying to get a perfect victory.
5. Not reviewing your OKRs
It will be easy to set and forget your OKRs. Remember, OKRs are only as effective as your commitment to using them and your efforts in driving them forward.
It can be hard to bring OKRs into an established organisation’s processes and customs but the key is working with these processes, not against them.
You can get creative with ways to review OKRs and keep them front of mind. Already have a quarterly meeting with your team? Add OKRs on to the agenda. Use a tool like Asana? Add OKRs to a shared project and dedicate time to review them. Have a common workspace? Display your OKRs on the wall
OKRs are a powerful tool for working on the right thing and giving teams and individuals autonomy to find different ways to solve problems. Teams and individuals focused on the right problems with the autonomy to find the right solutions will do amazing work. They will be motivated and creative in ways we can’t imagine! Those are the teams making businesses grow, solving the toughest problems, and getting people excited to come to work every day. That’s the kind of team we all want to be a part of.