I’m on a mission to share real-world examples of OKRs. In my OKRs Library Preview, I shared an example from a Legal team. Prior posts include examples from our pals in Finance and UX. Still, many of my readers are requesting more examples of OKRs from “business-as-usual” domains such as Facilities, HR, and IT. So, here’s an excerpt of a recent OKRs coaching session with a Facilities team. As with all my clients, OKRs begin with a mission.
Mission: Provide quality services in an efficient manner to ensure our employee satisfaction within our global infrastructure
Objective: Get more scalable so we’re on track to be a machine as we enter 2018
- Reduce average ticket resolution time from 24 hours to 12 hours
- Bring ratio of Facilities to Total Company FTEs to 100:1 (we are not scalable at current ratio of 60:1)
The Facilities team at this high-tech company was brand new to OKRs. They came into the drafting workshop feeling like it would be impossible to develop OKRs for their team. Although, they were all aligned they knew they had to get more scalable and efficient. After a short presentation on OKRs, I asked the team to take 45 minutes to draft their OKRs. Phil followed the 7-step process for creating OKRs, beginning with developing a mission with his team. They didn’t take long to align on a mission or the objective, but did struggle with developing the KRs. An abbreviated version of our OKRs coaching dialog. It’s worth noting that the company sets OKRs every 6 months rather than on a quarterly basis.
OKRs Coaching Excerpt Part 1: The Objective
- Ben: What is the number one priority for the balance of the year?
- Phil: We’re growing like crazy and we need to support this growth without simply hiring more people. That is, we want to be more scalable.
- Ben: OK, let’s make an Objective around scalability. How will we know Facilities is more scalable by the end of this year? (This is the fundamental question of OKRs: “How will we know the objective is achieved at the end of the time period” — In this case, I was referring to the end of 2017, since we were setting OKRs for a 6-month period and heading into the second half of 2017)
- Phil: We’re not going to get more scalable this year. That’s not really going to happen until 2018.
- Ben: OK, so maybe the objective can be written “End 2017 on track to be scalable in 2018?”
- Phil: Yes, but that’s not inspirational. How about “Put systems in place now that increase scalability, so we’re on track to be a machine in 2018” (We went on to refine the objective as: “Get more scalable so we’re on track to be a machine as we enter 2018.”)
OKRs Coaching Excerpt Part 2: The Key Results
- Ben: How do we know we’re not scalable? How do we know this is such an important problem to fix right now?
- Phil: We’re growing like crazy and we take forever to process support tickets. The only way we can handle this is to hire new staff, but if we have to keep hiring more people on our team, then we know we are not scalable.
- Ben: OK, so how long is it taking to process tickets? Is this a manual process?
- Phil: It’s taking 20+ hours and we have this data somewhere. We’re tracking it, but it needs to be way less.
- Ben: What would amazing look like by the end of 2017?
- Phil: If we can cut this to 12 hours, that’s amazing. 12 hours is the benchmark target.
- Ben: OK, that can be a Key Result. Are we 100% sure that reducing this ticket time helps us be more scalable.
- Phil: Yes, for sure. The CEO herself says we need to reduce this. The problem is that most of our processes are very manual. We need to automate a bunch of stuff.
- Ben: What is the intended outcome of automating stuff?
- Phil: Being able to do more and doing it better, with less resources. This is pretty much the definition of scalability.
- Ben: So, how do we know we’re doing more and doing it better with less resources?
- Phil: Resolving tickets faster is the main way we’re going to know we’re doing better. As far as less resources, we’ve got to look at the ratio of how many staff we need to maintain the company.
- Ben: So how many do we have total in the team?
- Phil: We’re at 20 right now. But, I don’t want to keep bringing in more people. However, we’re also growing rapidly.
- Ben: We have about 1,200 employees right now. So, we’re about 1 Facility FTE per 60 total employees.
- Phil: Right, and that’s the problem. We want to get this ratio up. We can still hire people, but just not at this pace. In fact, if we improve automation, we can shift people out of Facilities and into fulfillment or other areas like customer ops.
- Ben: So what would the amazing ratio be?
- Phil: 100:1.
- Automation! KRs come up around automation all the time. Rather than getting into what we need to automate, I asked “what is the intended outcome of automation?” This keeps the discussion focused on outcomes, not tasks.
- Longer-Range Objectives. Notice how we didn’t feel like we could really achieve the objective by the end of 2016. So, we simply wrote the Objective as “End the period on track to…” This trick can be very useful when drafting OKRs. I learned it from John Doerr. Thanks John!
- Ratio KRs. Internal support teams often want to be efficient. A simple way to measure this is using the ratio of #FTEs required to support an internal stakeholder group. In this case, everyone in the company was an internal stakeholder since the Facilities team supported the entire staff.
Please share comments and questions related to this coaching conversation.
I’m exploring a paid-online OKRs coaching service that would allow anyone to submit OKRs for comments and feedback. If you’ve read this far, I’m happy to send comments back on your OKRs. Just be sure to mention this blog article. Would you like to submit your OKRs for comments? If so, simply send them to me! Ben@OKRs.com