As we approach the end of the year, we are in the final leg of the OKR cycle. Final grading is coming up and performance judgments will follow. The focus is on making sure everything gets done. The OKR scorecards usually show a different picture. They contain a variety of red, yellow and green scores. Some OKR’s may be complete and others need a miracle to get done. As I step back and observe these scorecards, a bigger question arises. How well are the OKR’s serving my clients?
A recent scorecard perked my interest. Several key results were complete, some had been abandoned and many were a work in progress. I guessed about half of the key results would not get done. My immediate reaction was not positive. In a highly effective organization, I see at least 75% completion rates. On that simple basis 50% isn’t good, but there is more to it. Let’s say the 50% that were completed included all the most important results. This would be a pretty good outcome.
Rather than focus solely on how many key results get done, the OKR results can tell us a whole lot more. For example:
How are the OKR results aligned with the organizations performance? Is there a high level of correlation between the OKR results and the organization’s performance? If not, are you working on the right things?
Is your goal setting too ambitious? I see this all the time. At the start of the year, everyone is optimistic about what they can get done. This leads to pages of key results. This can lead to overwhelm and dilution of effort. When everything is important, nothing is. If you are only getting 50% of your key results done, did you take on too much? Remember, you can always add more later if you get everything done.
Did your scorecard look great until the end of the year? Key results don’t suddenly go off track just before the end of the year. These surprises are a sign your scoring through the year was too generous. I prefer to be tough during the year and end up being pleasantly surprised at the end.
What are your OKR’s telling you about your organization?