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Objectives and Key Results in Flow

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It’s not easy to stay focused. I’m supposed to be working on my new workshops, but I find myself distracted by the long-awaited releases of the new ABBA album, the DUNE movie, and several ideas I have for my upcoming novel.

For teams, it’s no different. We have so much to do and so little time. Countless opportunities besiege us while we’re also attacked by even more urgent matters requiring our attention.

But no worries! An army of goal-setting frameworks comes to our rescue. This army is led by marshall Management by Objectives (MBO) and general Objectives and Key Results (OKR). It comes with veterans such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and SMART criteria while enthusiastically accompanied by new recruits such as the North Star Metric (NSM), Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG), Evidence-Based Management (EBM), and Fitness for Purpose (F4P). It’s a modern army because it is well prepared for story mapping, product visions, sprint goals, and much more.

Are you feeling SAFe yet?

Let me be honest with you: I find it all somewhat overwhelming.

In this article, my goal (pun intended) is to clear up some (but not all) of the confusion around goal-setting and to offer you a helpful process template for goal-setting at the team level. What I describe here is compatible with just about every framework I’m aware of. At the same time, with the choice of short timeboxes versus continuous flow, I will give you something to think about that you won’t find in other goal-setting frameworks.

Which Performance Indicators Are Key?

Let’s start with Key Performance Indicators.

A performance indicator is a metric assuring you that you’re doing well, or warning you that you’re not. Every signal that regularly informs you of your progress toward (or away from) success is a performance metric.

The problem is, with so much data around us, we need to choose which of the many performance indicators are most relevant to us. In other words, which metrics are key? As a runner, my Strava app offers me dozens of performance indicators. There’s Average Pace, Calories, Avg. Heart Rate, Weekly Intensity, Monthly Fitness, and the list goes on. But I have just two key performance indicators (KPIs) that I monitor fanatically: Kilometers per Week and Ahead of/Behind Yearly Plan.

Within corporate circles, you often find that the word KPIs is used primarily for company-wide metrics indicating the financial health of a business. You hear about Monthly Recurring Revenue, Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Acquisition Costs, and so on. But this is a rather narrow interpretation. Your team’s Delivery Lead Time and Change Fail Rate are performance indicators too. It’s up to you to elevate them to key performance indicators if you want to improve them (with OKRs) or keep an eye on them (as Health Metrics).

“KPI’s are [usually] impact metrics. More often than not, the metrics you’ll find on a “KPI dashboard” are the same metrics you would call impact metrics — high-level measures of the health of the business.” – Jeff Gothelf

All performance indicators are equal, but some are more equal than others. You have no time to monitor everything, so you pick a small number of metrics that will guide your team toward success. You elevate a selection of performance indicators, and you make them key. Promotion and demotion of KPIs can happen any time you want. Sometimes, I have monitored my Daily Running Streak. Someday, I might care more about my Average Pace.

Close the Value Gap

My annual target as a runner this year is 2,500 kilometers, which is 300 km more than I did last year. My goal as a content designer is to create a successful new workshop. And as a writer, I hope that readers will like my next book. There’s always something we want to accomplish. Sometimes, it’s the creation of something new. Other times, it’s improving a thing that already exists.

When you look at your current situation to understand the experience you currently deliver to customers, employees, and other stakeholders, you find your Current Value. You can also imagine the better experience you could provide to them in the future, and you might call that the Future Value. The difference between future and current is your Unrealized Value. Closing that gap should be your focus for the next few days, weeks, or months (depending on the size of the gap), and it should be your main reason for setting goals.

Goal-setting researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, in a 35-year meta-study, found overwhelming evidence supporting the idea that challenging goals lead to better performance. Others have said that goals help teams with focus, agility, alignment, speed, communication, engagement, accountability, and discipline.

That sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?

Well, keep reading and pay attention because you have many opportunities for screwing it all up.

Goal Planning (Draft and Refinement)

I don’t mean to scare you off, but goal-setting requires collaboration and, therefore, a couple of meetings with your team. You need to organize at least two goal planning sessions, one for the drafting and one for the tuning of your OKRs. Yep, sorry. You must talk about value and delivering better experiences. What are the options, and what will you do next?

Goal planning is the most challenging part of the process, so I will dedicate a considerable amount of this article to describing, crafting, and prioritizing different kinds of objectives and key results. First, you will design drafts of your OKRs that you offer to other teams and stakeholders to get input. Second, you will use their feedback to refine and finalize your OKRs. It is common for the drafting and tuning sessions to be several days or even a week apart.

So, roll up your sleeves. Here we go.

Choose Your Next Objective

What is an objective? Let’s start with a few examples:

  • Roll out a new design
  • Offer a well-loved MVP
  • Get a higher conversion rate to paid
  • Migrate all customers to the new platform
  • Enable task automation for users

Choosing which gap to close, and thus what Unrealized Value to create, is one of the most complex decisions as a team. There are so many things your customers, employees, and stakeholders want from you, and there are only so many hours in a week. But don’t fall into the trap of not choosing because you end up trying to do too much, and then you achieve nothing. Evaluate your options and choose!

An objective must be:

  • Relevant – There is a specific area for improvement. Don’t pick an objective that doesn’t offer great value and won’t significantly improve someone’s experience.
  • Inspirational – You motivate the team. There’s nothing worse than working toward a goal that doesn’t move anyone. People need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Aligned – Connect with higher- and lower-level goals. The objective is not simply imposed but also not fully independent. Teams at different levels move in the same direction.
  • Negotiated – Improve with feedback from other teams and stakeholders. This requires transparency. The team is autonomous, but it does take into account all comments.
  • Collaborative – An effort by the whole team is needed to accomplish the goal. An objective requiring that one team member does all the work doesn’t count.
  • Agreed – All team members feel committed to the selected goal. To phrase it horribly, the team members are on the same page and in the same boat.
  • Time-bound – The team knows when the planned outcome should be achieved. In general, goals without a specific date or milestone don’t work.

These seven principles for objectives spell RIANCAT. I have no idea what that means. Suggestions appreciated.

Set Your Targets per Objective

But wait! You’re not done yet. A goal needs at least one KPI so that you can measure your progress toward completion. How else do you know that you’ve achieved what you aimed for?

Again, let’s start with a few examples:

  • Get 10,000 new signups
  • Achieve trial to paid ratio of over 50%
  • Reduce infrastructure costs from X to Y
  • Get three or more referrals per customer
  • Improve customer satisfaction from X to Y
  • Recommendation score of 8 or higher
  • NPS goes up from 30 to 60

You need specific targets that enable you to say, “Yes, we made it!” Therefore, try to fill in the blanks in this sentence:

I will [objective] as measured by [key results].

In OKRs terminology, the targets are called Key Results, and it’s best to have a few of them. Each key result must be:

  • Measurable – Make sure that it answers the question, “Did we achieve the objective or not?” If the key result is not quantifiable, it cannot tell us if we are on track.
  • Outcome-oriented – You should measure a behavioral change of customers, employees, or stakeholders. Simply ticking off a list of action items doesn’t count!
  • Simple – Targets must be unambiguous and easy to understand for all team members. Don’t make your metric a complicated formula that consists of a myriad of variables.
  • Balanced – Compensate for blind spots among the other targets within the same set. For example, if one key result covers quantity, another could cover quality.
  • Ambitious – Allow team members to feel a little bit uncomfortable. With effort, the key result should be achievable, but it’s far from easy. In other words, it is challenging.
  • Realistic – At the same time, despite the ambition, team members still must feel the work is doable and aiming for the intended outcome is reasonable.
  • Trackable – Finally, ensure that the metric does not simply have a True or False binary outcome. The team should be able to see progress toward their goal.

These seven principles for key results spell MOSBART. I am curious to learn what that means.

Objectives and Key Results

There is an essential distinction between the objective, which is qualitative, and its key results, which are quantitative. This is one of the main improvements of Objectives and Key Results over traditional Management by Objectives.

“Having a target without understanding [the goal] risks hitting the target but missing the goal. Quantitive targets need to be combined with qualitative understanding.” – Alan Kelly

When people don’t differentiate between the Why and the What, there is a risk of forgetting about the Why and only focusing on the What. You then end up in a situation that countless employees in too many organizations know only too well.

“What gets measured gets managed – even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.” – V.F. Ridgway

When you match an objective with several targets explaining how you will keep track of your progress, you have an OKR. Most experts suggest that each object is best served with two or three key results that each measure the goal from a different angle. One metric is usually not sufficient. More than three is usually too much to keep track of. By default, aim for three key results.

Aspirational versus Committed

OKRs are not all the same. The world is complex, and different approaches are needed to close the gaps between Current and Future Value.

Aspirational objectives are the fuzziest goals, often linked to moonshots, Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG), and 10X goals. Aspirational goals require that your team members get out of their comfort zone. With this kind of OKR, the objective is a hypothesis, indicating a belief of having a chance at a particular outcome. Startups and other teams that work in the exploration stages of a product’s lifecycle should mostly pick aspirational OKRs. The purpose of these OKRs is to learn and discover what a valuable experience for a customer, employee, or stakeholder is. Standard OKRs practice is to consider 70% a good score for aspirational OKRs.

Committed objectives are those that your team signs up for because they believe they can fully achieve them. Felipe Castro refers to them as roofshots because the level of uncertainty is a lot lower. Alan Kelly refers to them as utility OKRs because, for the team, delivering on the commitment is doing more of the same. They know how to do this. Teams that work in execution mode will mostly have committed OKRs. They will be executing to deliver, and they expect few surprises along the way. Standard OKRs practice is to consider 100% as the desired score for committed OKRs.

Tell your team they should be honest with themselves! By marking a committed OKR as “aspirational”, they would set themselves up for failure when there’s no need for that. And by marking an aspirational OKR as “committed”, they may end up exposing themselves to unnecessary stress.

It is said that, for most teams, it is easiest to start with only committed OKRs as the aspirational OKRs require a culture of psychological safety. This makes sense because it’s best for people to build confidence in a new behavior by starting at a manageable level. You can always raise the bar later (by making the OKRs more aspirational).

Many Chances of Succeeding

I believe that aspirational vs. committed is not a binary choice. It is a scale. Almost every startup team is a venture with maybe less than a 10% chance of becoming a scaleup. Researchers and scientists are used to running experiments that have meager chances of succeeding. And I learned that A/B tests in companies such as Booking and LinkedIn have success ratios of around 30% on average. These are initiatives that happen “against all odds”.

We could reflect this in OKRs by using multiple sweet spots to indicate the level of aspiration/commitment.

  • 100% – We commit ourselves to fully achieve the objective because this is execution in a domain that we are very familiar with.
  • 70% – We aim for full completion, but there is uncertainty involved because part of what we do is exploration, not execution.
  • 50% – Even though we want it all, realistically, we must acknowledge significant uncertainty, and getting halfway wouldn’t be so bad.
  • 30% – This objective is like running a test. We have some familiarity with the domain, but almost everything we do, we never did before.
  • 10% – This objective is like having a startup idea. Likely, it won’t work out, but we firmly believe that it’s worth trying.

There are many examples of goals that have a low chance of success.

IT companies bidding on a tender for a development project start their pitching process knowing that the chance of winning is not more than 50/50, probably lower. Book writers know that, even with a great manuscript and tremendous patience, the chance of getting published by a major publisher is maybe 30% or lower. Athletes who aim to win an Olympic medal willingly start an endeavor that has a chance of succeeding of perhaps 10% or less.

The good news is that many teams can increase the odds of winning by reducing the size of their experiments and iterating through more of them in a sequence. This is how a 30% OKR can be bumped up to 50%, maybe even 70%. But this strategy depends on the challenge and may not always be possible. Alternatively, you can run experiments in parallel in a portfolio (see below).

The fact remains, if you want people to be truly ambitious, you need to give them more options than just 70% and 100%. I can easily set the OKR for my running challenge this year at 100%. But ask me about becoming a bestselling novelist, and I would put that OKR at 10%. Sure, I will work hard to sell a million copies. But one-tenth of that would already be worth celebrating.

Find Your North Star

How many are too many?

You can have any number of OKRs, but fewer is better. In goal-setting theory, the concept of goal competition says that the biggest obstacle to achieving your goals is all the other goals you have. You want focus! Less is more. Try to limit the number of OKRs in progress. Three is okay; two is better; one is perfect.

If you decide to aim for several objectives simultaneously, you might consider prioritizing the OKRs. Answer the question, “If we suddenly had less time or fewer people, behind which of these objectives would we throw our full weight?”

Likewise, you can prioritize the key results within each OKR. Answer the question, “If we suddenly had less time or fewer people, which of these targets would get most of our attention?”

If you do this for your current objectives and each of their key results, you will have found your North Star Metric: the number one key result of the top-most OKR. Facebook has (or had) Daily Active Users (DAUs) as their North Star Metric. Uber has (or had) Weekly Rides.

The North Star Metric is often defined as follows:

North Star Metric = The single metric that best captures the core value you deliver to customers [or other stakeholders].

By going through all the trouble of selecting and prioritizing your objectives and targets, you did all the work to find that single KPI. It shows you the most critical gap that must be closed between Current Value and Future Value.

Betting with a Portfolio

One exception to the idea of having limited OKRs in progress is when you’re working with a portfolio of options.

Startup investors know that they need to invest in twenty different ventures to have a reasonable chance of a good return on their investment. Each startup has maybe a 10% chance of succeeding. That means investors don’t want focus; they want diversification to balance their portfolio.

You have a similar situation when you’re a team managing a dozen high-risk experiments. Each of these might have a success rate of 10%. If the experiments are small enough, you can manage them as initiatives (see below). Then you can wrap the entire set of a dozen simultaneous experiments inside one objective with a 70% success estimate.

When twelve experiments each have a success rate of just 10%, the chance of at least one of them succeeding is 72%. — Probabilities were one of my favorite math topics in high school.

If, however, these experiments have bigger budgets and longer time frames, you can choose to manage an experiment portfolio with twelve OKRs, and each has a 10% success estimate. The principle of managing risk with a portfolio of parallel experiments remains the same, no matter the scale.

When you have only experiments among your objectives, you might consider calling them strategic bets. Among managers, bets are a better word than experiments and hypotheses. Managers don’t like experimenting, but they love betting!

“I started to use the word “bet” and noticed something very interesting. Executives, who understand concepts like risk, return, investment, and diversification, dropped their resistance. Bets make sense. Bets can be big or small. Bets can be risky or safe. Good bets can sometimes lose, and bad bets can sometimes win.”- John Cutler

Short Timeboxes or Continuous Flow

Have you noticed something of the methods war in the Lean-Agile community regarding Scrum versus Kanban? No? Then you missed a lot of fun! 😁

There are basically two work management strategies for being lean and agile. The first one takes short timeboxes as a starting point and makes all work subservient to the cadence of iterations. This is the Scrum way of working. The second one takes continuous flow as a starting point and considers cadences valuable but optional. This is the Kanban way of working. Neither approach is “best” because their effectiveness depends on context.

The default in the OKRs framework is the timebox paradigm. Iterations for OKRs typically last three months; they start with goal planning, and they end with a goal review. During the review, your team determines their level of success. What they say is, “OK, our time is up! How did we do?” If your team is unsuccessful with an OKR, they can decide to carry it over to the next iteration. This is also how Scrum works.

Alternatively, your team can opt for continuous flow. In this case, planning (or replenishment) of OKRs can happen at any time, and the same applies to review meetings. A cadence for these meetings is advisable, but they don’t need to be fixed or synced per quarter, and you can organize them frequently. In their check-in meetings, your team will then keep asking, “Are we done yet? Are we done yet? Are we done yet?” They work toward an OKR until they decide they can move it and replace it with another. This is similar to how Kanban works.

All available books and articles on Objectives and Key Results promote short timeboxes. Interestingly enough, advocates for the North Star Metric describe a continuous flow. I won’t choose for you because the best work management strategy depends on your context and preferences. Don’t start a war. Just do what works for you. (But offer me a coffee, and you might catch me saying that continuous flow is pretty cool.)

Pull Initiatives from Your Backlog

So, you aligned your OKRs with upper and lower levels in the corporate hierarchy, and you listened to the feedback received from stakeholders and other teams? Great! Now, you can link initiatives to your OKRs. Depending on the scale of your work, and the organizational level at which you operate, the initiatives can be anything from tasks or stories to entire projects or production stages.

If you’re working on a product, you can pull initiatives from a product backlog. Your team should treat the backlog as just a repository of options. You don’t “burn down” your product backlog, and you don’t waste your time prioritizing a long list of feature ideas.

I think the word backlog might be one of the dumbest words we use in the agile community. It originally means “things we MUST do and should have done already” (for example, handling unfulfilled orders). The original meaning of the word is more a checklist than a wishlist.

Does all this somehow connect to the agile practice of story mapping? For sure! With a story map, you can visualize everything that you do as part of an initiative. You can make a backbone of user journeys and have plenty of stories and multiple releases planned. Go ahead, draw it all out. Just remember that everything you do should somehow move the needle on one or more targets of your OKRs.

And what about epics? Well, that depends entirely on how you define the term. The word backlog is merely confusing. The term epic is almost controversial. There is no agreement about the meaning of epics, so I will leave that thought exercise to you.

Create a Roadmap of Objectives

It is likely that, when selecting your objectives, you have to say “No” to a few of them. Maybe even too many of them! Actually, what you’ll probably say is something along the lines of, “Yes, but not now.” Postponed objectives should go into a queue of candidates. If you take a bit of time prioritizing them, you can treat them as a high-level roadmap.

When you know how long it takes to deliver on your OKRs, you can offer sensible forecasts to your stakeholders. Can you do between two and three OKRs in your three-month timeboxes? Then your remaining list of ten objectives will take you another year. Is your throughput roughly one month per objective? Then you can expect to do the other ten over the next ten months. It’s simple math, really.

You can even distinguish between candidate objectives that you will undoubtedly pick next versus others that you’re not yet sure of. Then you have all you need for a product roadmap with Now/Soon/Later sections. Your current objectives are what you’re working on Now. The ones that almost certainly come next are labeled Soon. And all the others sit in the section called Later.

Remember, you don’t burn down your backlog. You work through your objectives.

The Check-in

Maybe the biggest problem, when it comes to goal-setting, is that teams end up “setting and forgetting”. They don’t follow up on their goals in a regular manner to see how they’re doing. (Oh look, I’m raising both hands here.) The idea of making your key results trackable is so that you can check in on them frequently. And you should do the same with your health metrics. (See below.)

The check-in is something that teams usually do once per week. Scrum teams can do this as part of (or in between) their demo and retro meetings. For sure, the OKRs check-in should be completed not long before a Scrum planning meeting or a Kanban replenishment meeting so that a team has the most up-to-date knowledge about where they stand with their objectives. This will improve further decision-making.

Some teams use confidence levels to indicate how much they believe that they can achieve the objective. They define confidence levels such as High, Medium, and Low or On-track, Off-track, and At-risk. Confidence levels nudge team members to come forward with any issues and risks they have on their minds. It would be rather embarrassing to end up with a failed OKR that had been tagged with only High confidence levels. Failing OKRs should not come as a surprise.

The Review

At some point, your team will stop working toward an objective because the time is up (in case of timeboxing) or because your team has a reason to swap it out (in case of continuous flow). They then decide whether they succeeded or failed with the OKR. This evaluation can be done as part of the regular check-in, but it’s probably best to make it a separate meeting with its own cadence so that you have more time to discuss and reflect.

Grading an OKR means giving yourself a score between 0% and 100%, depending on the final measurements of the key results. In many cases, this introduces a level of subjectivity. Revenue per Day is probably more objectively measured and graded than Compliments per Day. But as long as teams are evaluating their own performance (and are not externally incentivized by managers), they have little or no incentive to game the system. (I see no reason to cheat on my progress toward running 2,500 kilometers this year. But if someone were to pay me a huge bonus, I might be tempted to hop on a scooter when things get tough.)

Abandoning the Goal

At which point is it OK to throw out an OKR?

The experts agree that abandoning an objective should not be done too casually. The last thing you want is for your team not to take their objectives seriously. Once committed, they should do all they can to deliver on their commitment. However, few things demotivate people more than fighting for a lost cause. Yes, they are allowed to give up, but not without a good struggle.

Environments change, contexts switch, and your team may be confronted with an entirely new (maybe hopeless) situation that they had not foreseen. *Ahem* Covid-19 pandemic, anyone? *Ahem* You can see it as the equivalent of canceling a sprint in Scrum or removing an “In Progress” item from a Kanban board. This is clearly a judgment call for the team. In my opinion, this should go on the records as an unforeseen failure.

Cadence and Syncing

Whether you use a timeboxed approach or a continuous flow, your meetings are best served with a regular cadence. Standard OKRs practice is to have the check-ins happen once per week, while planning and review happen once every three months. However, your team may have good reasons for deviating from the standard.

A shorter cadence allows you to respond faster to change, but you should have little communication overhead, or else you find yourself sitting in too many meetings. A longer cadence gives you more time to get things done, but it requires that there’s less uncertainty in your environment.

Synchronization is another area in which you are allowed to go your own way. Standard OKRs practice is to have all teams synchronize the weeks in which they do their planning and review meetings. The apparent benefit of such an approach is that it facilitates easier coordination of objectives across teams. However, there’s also something to be said for the decoupling of meetings. For example, development teams in a microservices environment rarely synchronize the planning and releases of their APIs. The same can apply to teams and their OKRs. They can be connected to and independent of all other teams.

A compromise could be to synchronize planning and review of objectives across all teams working on the same product or within the same tribe.

Health Metrics

At last, we’re almost there!

I covered the most important topics regarding OKRs. But for many organizations, closing the gap between Current Value and Future Value is only half of the work. The other half is keeping the gap from reopening! And that’s the purpose of health metrics: monitoring stable performance levels.

“OKRs and Health Metrics live side by side on the company’s dashboard. You track both. OKRs are where you push forward to greater growth. Health metrics are the things you protect while you grow.” – Christina Wodtke

For some teams in your organization, much of their daily work is Business As Usual (BAU). Their KPIs are mainly health metrics to monitor so that performance doesn’t drop below acceptable levels. Service teams, human resources, and accounting come to mind. That’s not to say that they have no OKRs, but the amount of time they can spend on objectives and key results is probably between 5 to 20% of their total capacity. With production teams, it is the other way around. Between 80% to 95% of their work is related to OKRs, but there’s still a tiny percentage that they should reserve for operations and maintenance.

This means you have two kinds of KPIs: key results and health metrics.

Imagine a large pool of performance indicators with thousands of ways to measure performance on teams. When creating an OKR, some of those metrics are promoted to key performance indicators because you select them as key results for the objective. You will track them for a while until the OKR is reviewed and considered done. You then have two options: You can keep monitoring them as KPIs by moving them over to your health metrics. Or you can stop watching them, in which case they are demoted back to ordinary (untracked) performance indicators.

That’s how you close the gaps and keep them closed.

Scale It Up and Down

I did my best to write this article independently of scale. Your team could be managing one value stream in a large product; you could be an autonomous startup; you could be a team managing a portfolio or the executive team of a multinational. It shouldn’t matter that much because goal-setting scales like a fractal. It is self-similar across all levels.

Discussions around strategy and tactics require different levels of thinking. Strategic decisions happen less frequently and cover a longer timespan than tactical decisions, so it makes sense that their discussions don’t happen with the same frequency. The planning and review of strategic objectives could happen once per year, with monthly check-ins, while, at the tactical level, this could be once per quarter and once per week, respectively. (And these strategic and tactical sessions can be organized with the same team or at different levels in the organization.)

Anyways, no matter which objectives your team selects, they must ensure that everything aligns with higher and lower level objectives. Everything that happens in an organization should be subservient to OKRs (and health metrics). Every decision is somehow connected to a KPI.

Performance Appraisals

Last but not least, I will repeat the strong advice offered by many experts that neither OKRs nor health metrics should be linked to bonuses and other incentives. Performance evaluations of employees should never be directly tied to the grades on their OKRs or the status of their team’s health metrics.

One reason is that OKRs and health metrics are usually team responsibilities. What an individual team member did to contribute to these objectives and execute on them is a different matter. Another reason is that excellent scores on committed goals might be less valuable than mediocre scores on aspirational ones. You should evaluate people for their contributions to execution and exploration.

The OKRs framework is not meant to be an objective tool. Subjectivity is needed in the beginning, when teams select the highest priorities out of many options, and subjectivity is necessary at the end when team members grade themselves and are evaluated by others for their performance and track record. It begins with humans, and it ends with humans.

Keep Working on Your System

In this article, I offered you a process template based on Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), infused with the North Star Metric (NSM), Evidence-Based Management (EBM), Fit for Purpose (F4P), SMART criteria, health metrics, and other goal-setting paradigms. I described it in a way that is scalable, and I offered you various choices (such as products versus portfolios and timeboxes versus continuous flow).

I hope you find this a helpful starting point for goal-setting with your team.

Now it’s up to you to make OKRs work for you. But please consider that your goal-setting system is more important than a single objective, like your work-life is more important than a single job.

And keep running. 😉🏃🏻‍♂️

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.” – James Clear

Objectives and Key Results in Flow is part of The Versatile Organization workshop. I offer this model to teams and organizations to help with their self-improvement, lean-agile transformation, and customer engagement efforts. A PDF download of the template is available for all free members of Shiftup.


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