OKR: More Than Just a Buzzword
Like most of you, I have been challenged to establish my annual "OKRs" at the start of this new year. It seems that OKR has suddenly become a big buzzword that businesses have been throwing around the past few years. If you were like me before ever hearing of this acronym, you might be asking yourself: what is OKR, and what happened to the classics like KPI or SMART goals?
I decided to do some digging around to understand where this new buzzword comes from, and I learned that the term, in fact, has been around quite some time. More than 30 years to be exact! OKR was first introduced in the book High Output Management by Andy Grove, which was published in 1983. This term would later be used by one of Google's early investors, John Doerr, who used to work at Intel, and then it caught on at Spotify, Amazon and other big companies. That's when it gained traction to become the business buzzword that it is today.
What is OKR?
Enough with the history lesson, what is exactly is OKR?
Simply put, OKR is a strategic framework that stands for (O)Objectives and (K)Key (R)Results. When setting your OKRs, the Objectives should be tied back to your organization's mission, vision, and strategic initiatives, and the Key Results are the measurable components that help you determine whether or not you are meeting your objectives.
So, what is the difference between OKRs and KPIs or SMART goals? To start with, KPIs are are just measurements that represent output and don't tell you the entire story, whereas OKRs give you the big picture from the start to finish. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals are usually a bit more targeted and lack the full scope of the OKR methodology. You can think of OKRs as a collection of SMART goals and their respective KPIs.
Plan & Track Your OKRs with Atlassian
Now that we understand the concept of OKRs, our next step is to establish them, and there is no better tool for this process than Confluence. At Praecipio, we dedicated a Confluence Space to our OKRs because we wanted to make sure that it is easily accessible to our employees. After all, we are all working together towards the same strategic objectives, and Confluence is the perfect collaborative space that allows us to check in on our goals and progress at any time.
We started by organizing our OKRs by year so that we know what we have achieved in the past, as well as what we are working towards now and into the future. Within each year, we group our OKRs into overarching concepts that we refer to as "tracks". For example, we have a track for our 2020 OKR around "Climate Action Plan", and we use the Confluence Project Poster blueprint as a guide to document why this is part of our strategic objectives and who should be involved.
This also serves as a snapshot to get people excited about a track's children pages, which are the actual OKRs. Our OKR pages are custom templates that we built out and allow us to describe how we want our OKRs to look. More importantly, we use the page property macro to capture key pieces of information to display on that specific year's parent page, and we utilize labels that make the pages easier to reference.
For instance, one of the OKRs is to involve you, our community, by educating you and inviting you to join our efforts in overcoming climate change, which we do by providing your with content and information about organizations that we partner with via blog posts and webinars. We will measure our success by the content we produce, the number clicks we receive on that content and the success stories shared by you as a result.
To help with following up on OKRs, we utilize a Jira project for internal projects to track each OKR as an Epic and all the separate tasks as related issues. We use a Fix Versions as a grouping mechanism for the track so that we have visibility on how we are doing from a big picture perspective.
Improve Your Goal-Setting Process
OKRs are not new to the business scene, but they can definitely help drive business value and help you reach your strategic objectives. Confluence is a great tool that allows you to capture the "why" and "what" you want to do, and Jira can show you "who" and "how" the OKR is doing.
If you are interested in learning how Atlassian tools can help you with your goal-setting and other business processes, contact us at Praecipio, and we'll be glad to get you on the right "track".