I just got some “constructive feedback” from my last OKRs workshop. Even if you didn’t attend Goal Summit 2017 in San Francisco and listen to Doctor David Rock from the Neuroleadership Institute talk about the importance of feedback, you probably know that feedback is really important. But it’s the feedback that you ask for that is most valuable. Your feedback inspired me to develop this OKRs Library!
Feedback for Ben
- Your overall presentation on OKRs is good.
- We like your style.
- Oh, also, some of your stories are funny.
- YOUR EXAMPLES ARE GEARED TOWARD A SALES AND MARKETING AUDIENCE.
- YOU NEED MORE EXAMPLES THAT REFLECT PRODUCT, ENGINEERING, TECHNICAL AND INTERNAL SUPPORT TEAMS.
Thanks Marty Cagan for sharing thoughts after observing my most recent OKRs workshop. And thanks to John Norman for the detailed feedback on the OKRs book I wrote with Paul Niven recently. Marty and John: I’m listening. And as I look back at which Quora posts and blog articles are getting the most views, I see a simple trend. OKRs that feature specific examples get the most traffic. So, let’s collect real-world, team-level examples of OKRs. And let’s not just do this for Sales and Marketing. Let’s do it for technical, creative, and internal support teams such as Product, Design, Engineering, HR, and Finance.
In fact, in 2012 when I started on my first OKRs project, I remember team leaders asking for examples of OKRs specific to their department. So, I am announcing the world’s first OKRs libary! At first, I tried to charge for access to the library, but this is silly in today’s information age… So, rather than creating a login that requires you pay to access a separate section of my site, I will simply add OKRs library entries to this blog. This keeps it free for everyone.
Why an OKRs library?
When Key Performance Indicator (KPI) libraries first came out, I paid a monthly fee. Now, there are dozens of free libraries with KPI examples by function. Of course, you can also pay a bunch of money to get a list of standard KPIs by industry and department at APQC, for example. However, I’ve not seen a decent set of OKRs indexed by functional department and industry. And, seeing examples of real-world OKRs is an excellent way to ramp up your knowledge on OKRs.
The making of an OKRs library
After several years of coaching hundreds of teams all around the world, I estimate that I’ve now reviewed over 10,000 OKRs. I am pleased to share some of my experiences with these OKRs with you in this library. As you browse through the sample OKRs, I invite you to interact with me and other OKR experts with your comments and questions about specific OKRs in the library.
What makes the OKRs library super cool?
If you’re going to build a library from the ground up, why not do it right? The OKRs may be somewhat interesting in their final form. However, it’s the process of asking questions that really makes the OKRs framework so powerful. Remember my definition of OKRs: “OKRs is a critical thinking framework and ongoing discipline that enables employees to focus effort and make measurable contributions.” So, I am not simply listing OKRs here. I will make each entry a short story that includes an excerpt from my coaching conversation with the team leader. If you are my client and you see your excerpt, that’s great! But to protect us all, each team leader in these stories will be given a pseudonym. This peak into the coaching process with various departments across various industries will give you a peak into the OKRs drafting process.
First Library Entry!
Check out this first entry from the OKRs library. And, if you post a comment to this blog that includes your reaction to this example library entry with feedback for how to make it more useful, I will include your feedback into a future OKRs library blog post. My goal is to have over 50 entries in the OKRs Library spanning Finance, IT, HR, Product, Engineering, Treasury, Legal, and just about every industry by end of 2020. Grab a chair, get a nice reading lamp by the fireplace, and let’s have a conversation in our OKRs library. Well, OK, just sit by your screen, skim this example, and let me know what you think 🙂
OKRs Library Example Entry: Legal Team
Objective: Bring legal support for APAC up to par with our support in the Americas
- 10 of 13 weeks in Q2 have 100% of legal requests getting a 1st reply within 3 hours in APAC
- Report a baseline metric that reflects current levels of satisfaction with legal support in APAC based on 80 or more responses from internal stakeholders.
Legal teams often do not set their own OKRs. Rather, certain individuals comprising the Legal team participate in OKRs development with other teams that do set OKRs. Teams that rely highly on their Legal colleagues should proactively include Legal when creating their OKRs.
However, the head of this particular Legal team, let’s call him Richard, was quite keen to be part of the OKRs process. He wanted measurable goals for his team. Richard explained that getting more “metrics-oriented” was something that Legal Operations was trying to do, and OKRs seemed like a vehicle for getting more metrics focused.
First, we developed the mission sentence: “Constantly improve processes to ensure intelligent risk taking at the operational level.” I liked this mission since it was written in simple English and it got me wondering how we could know if a risk was “intelligent” to take. This mission is the long term statement of purpose. But when we got into the Objective for the upcoming Quarter, we did not directly define what types of risks are “intelligent.” And that’s fine.
However, notice how we did focus on providing legal support faster to a certain stakeholder group. Indirectly, we could see how the final OKR supports the broad mission. Providing more rapid legal support is related to ensuring “intelligent” risk. If we were to look at this on a deeper level, we’d need to ask what might happen if we did not provide responses to legal requests on time. For example, would some account managers just make decisions without legal support, thereby taking “less intelligent risks”? Here’s a key excerpt from our OKR drafting session.
OKRs Coaching Excerpt
As is often the case with a Legal team, we ended up creating just one Objective with a couple Key Results. The premise was that a bunch of the work in Legal is not really planned. Legal is often reactive rather than proactive. Legal agreements are often “1-offs” and you often don’t even know where you’ll focus your efforts until something bubbles up.
However, when I asked Richard, “What’s the number one thing Legal Ops needs to improve in Q2?” Richard explained without hesitation, “Right now, we need to improve the legal support in APAC.” Here’s a summary of the coaching conversation:
Ben: Why is APAC so important right now?
Richard: Everyone is complaining that we’re just not responsive enough to legal requests – and part of that is time zone, but it’s also that we don’t have the systems in place to really support them efficiently.
Ben: First of all, how do we know this is such a big problem? Is it really ‘everyone complaining’?
Richard: Well, not everyone, but we now have almost 100 account managers in APAC and I’d estimate 50% of them are not happy with our support.
Ben: Are you tracking the level of satisfaction in APAC?
Richard: No, but we should. I’m going to write a baseline KR to capture current satisfaction with legal in APAC.
Ben: OK, but how will we know that we have a valid baseline?
Richard: We have a standard internal stakeholder satisfaction survey we can run.
Ben: Great, how many survey responses will we need in order to say we can report a valid baseline?
Richard: If we can get 80 or more, that would be more than adequate.
Ben: Great. We have a baseline Key Result – ‘Report a baseline metric that reflects current levels of satisfaction with legal support in APAC based on 80 or more responses from internal stakeholders.’
Richard: Yes, that’s an important one.
Ben: Agreed, but back to the actual support. What is the intended outcome of the support we’re providing to APAC?
Richard: Well, every contract gets a different set of feedback. The main thing is that we give them a quick response to whatever issue arises. Sometimes this helps them close deals, but mostly it just helps them manage existing customers. They depend on us for legal guidance for tons of things.
Ben: OK, so how do we know that our legal support makes an impact? How can we make this measurable?
Richard: We’re tracking this now as ‘response time.’ The benchmark is the Americas where we reply to basically all legal requests within 1 hour. No request ever goes more than 3 hours. But in APAC, we’re all over the place. The average is close to 2 hours. The problems occur when we don’t close the issue within 3-4 hours.
Ben: Given we’re measuring this support time, could we just have a metric like reduce average support time from X to Y in APAC?
Richard: Well, the average isn’t really the issue. It’s the outliers where we’re not responsive that make the negative impact. So, I’d like to have no more than 3 requests take more than 3 hours.
Ben: OK, this is good, but it’s a bit negative, can we make it more positive, like “10 of 13 weeks in Q2 have zero requests taking more than 3 hours”?
Richard: Yes! This is a good one. This way every week where we get 100% of requests done within 3 hours is a win.
Post Your Comment!
When you post a comment, please let me know if this format works for you, how it can be improved, and what department you’d like to see me include in the OKRs library. For extra credit, post a draft OKR here and we can start improving it together for everyone to see the OKRs coaching process in action.