What's the future of OKRs and who do they help?
As we are nearing the end of the year, and many companies are in the process of planning their OKRs for 2022, we thought we would ask our experts what they think the future holds for the OKR framework itself.
Christina Wodtke, Radical Focus Author, OKR Expert, Consultant & Stanford Lecturer
The way things are going right now there seems to be a backlash against OKRs. Honestly, I think that might be appropriate. There is so much bad information out there and so many people selling snake oil. If people are thinking about using OKRs, I would ask them to first focus on a handful of prerequisites. Do you have psychological safety? Have you set up company values and do you have a clear strategy? Have you put in the time to move to modern product management approaches such as lean and agile? Once your company is actually healthy and strong and nimble, then you can adopt OKRs to supercharge what you've already built. There are a lot of companies that are not ready to adopt OKRs and the right use of your time is to focus your company towards modern product management techniques.
I know some people who stopped using the term “objectives and key results.” They talk instead about outcome-focused goal setting. When things have gotten so messy the consultants are starting to rebrand it's a bad sign. I personally continue to use OKRs and my personal life and recommend them to my clients. The value is massive. Perhaps in five years, we will see the same thing with OKRs that we see with agile and lean; a lot of people tried it, got it wrong, and decided the whole thing was a disaster yet other people tried it, experienced massive wins, and swear by it. I'll always be a member of the second camp.
Christina Lange, OKR Coach & Speaker
I assume more and more companies are willing to try it out and they will benefit from an “outcome perspective”, which also leads to more adoption in product organisations. I would even bet OKR becomes a commodity in tech organisations, but only if they inspect & adapt it to their environment and market challenges. Besides that I’m hoping that more people use OKRs also for their personal goals. I believe it will help us to focus on what matters in life.
Mukom Tamon, The Chief Excellence Officer™️ Academy, OKRs, 4DX & Lean Six Sigma expert
It will degenerate into yet another a box-checking caricature of a goal-setting system unless a trusted body of knowledge that captures the principles of effective OKRs.
Paul Niven, Global OKR Coach & OKR Author
Once one high-profile company links OKRs to incentive compensation it will eventually become standard practice for everyone. I don’t accept the ‘fact’ that OKRs should not be linked to compensation. There is a lot of research suggesting that pay for performance can drive significant benefits.
Nikhil Maini, Founder & Managing Director at OKR International, Professional OKR Coach & Behaviorist
From my experience of working on OKR Implementation across more than a dozen industry sectors, the next 3 to 5 years for OKRs look quite bullish to me.
- OKRs will find their way into more brick-n-mortar organisations as these companies are realising the power of being truly agile.
- OKRs practices will emerge and evolve and that’s going to be a challenge to consolidate a generic OKR Body of Knowledge.
- More OKR software companies are going to emerge as one of the fastest-growing businesses, with the number of OKR software platforms you can see today compared to 3 years ago.
- OKRs will eventually find their way into education sectors (B-Schools & Engineering Colleges) where curriculums will (and should) feature OKRs as an important framework for a strategy execution and start-up mindset).
- Only those so-called OKR experts will thrive that have a deep knowledge and practice of Change Management, Culture Transformations, Agile Leadership Development & Domain Expertise.
Hannes Albrecht, Founder of how-to-okr
Thinking back 3-5 years…have we thought about OKRs becoming more mainstream and also interesting for traditional companies and enterprises? Probably yes. Tech companies used to be a magical attraction and a blueprint for many others. Thinking into the future, I’d say that 3-5 years is nothing. Nothing in the sense of ways of work, organisational culture, habits, and leading with a strong and clear vision. We will adopt but not change radically. So OKRs will still be there. I also think there is still room for growth and there will be adaptations to the framework. Hopefully adaptations towards simplicity, trust and alignment. Because this is where I mostly see deficits.
Carsten Ley, OKR Goal-Setting Coach
- Given the speed of adaptation and crises the world is facing, most companies will use 3-6 months planning and execution cycles in the future
- Most companies will at least use a blend of OKRs and KPIs in their companies and will track operational data (BI) and progress data (OKRs, projects, etc) with the same importance
- Leaders will learn that objectives need to be inspiring for an educated workforce and that giving numerical targets is not enough anymore to engage employees
- Softer Objectives like Customer & Employee experience will stay on top of the company OKRs
Madeleine Silva, OKR Coach & Trainer
This framework is going to be used by many companies in LATAM, it could be big, medium, and large companies.
Allan Kelly, Agile OKR Coach & OKR Author
OKRs are receiving a lot of attention at the moment so many companies will adopt them over the next few years. Again and again in the digital world, we see the most successful companies aren’t just a little more successful than average, they are an order of magnitude better. I expect OKRs will follow that pattern, many companies will use OKRs but a few, those who get it right, will pull far ahead.
Bart Den Haak, Consultant & OKR Author
I hope that my book will help to change the way people are using OKRs. In some years from now, I hope that many product companies have adopted some form of goal setting with outcome-driven and measurable progress indicators. More importantly, the rise of new organisational and governance models such as dynamic governance requires tools such as OKRs to empower teams and remove the command-and-control and power-oriented organisational structures that we have seen for so many years. While OKRs and alike are great instruments to define goals, the real question for teams is how they can move the needle. In 3-5 years time, you will see emerging practices around software delivery, coaching, experimentation, and team structures. Ultimately OKRs can transform how teams work and replace old ways of working like Scrum.
Richard Russell, OKR & Leadership Coach
I see ongoing growth - we’ll be approaching a majority of companies who say they use OKRs in some sense. Many will simply be following OKR rules and trying to brand their management with “OKRs”, but not getting the results they expected. A growing minority will be using OKRs as a framework to deeply transform their management and empower their teams, creating clarity around strategy through OKRs, and these companies will be reaping the benefits of transformation.
Paul Barker, OKR & Strategy Coach
To successfully implement strategy, teams need to address a few principles - principles of strategic alignment, accountability, communication and monitoring to name but a few. These principles are not time-bound and won’t change in the next 3-5 years.
Any methodology, however, is bound to come into and fall out of favour. The OKR methodology, in particular, has evolved over decades - from Peter Drucker’s MBOs to Andy Grove’s first versions of OKRs, to what we know (and love!) today. OKRs work firstly because it addresses the principles of successful implementation. Secondly, when we formalise the methodology, everyone speaks the same language, which in itself increases the speed of execution.
Kenneth Paul Lewis, Co-Founder and Director at OKR International, Angel Investor, and Leadership Coach
OKRs are no longer about achieving ambitious goals. They have evolved as a framework to make companies more agile, transparent, engaging, external-looking, and radically focussed. Over the next 3-5 years more and more organisations will find it natural-choice to move to an OKR-like system. All types of organisations, all industries, self-help groups, communities, teams and even families will use OKRs to set, track and manage goals. This will soon become the most commonly used management framework in the world.
Mike Burrows, Lean, Agile, and Kanban Pioneer
Something I’m working towards myself is a better understanding of how OKR fits into other organisational models, and what other models and practices help OKR work better. OKR is simple enough that combining it with other things or viewing it through other lenses is pretty straightforward, and it’s not hard to imagine some very interesting mashups being created.
Brad Dunn, Chief Product Officer & OKR book Author
Google has used the framework, as did Intel more or less for decades. I’d say in the end, it’ll be here to stay but people honestly talk too much about OKRs in my opinion. They are just goals and companies have been doing that ever since Peter Drucker started the MBO (management by objective) concept. I’d say it’ll evolve a little, but in the end, goals are great for teams.
Mark Richard, OKR Coach
(OKRs) Will become a mainstream method for business communication of goals and success.
Khalil Medina, CEO & OKR Coach
(OKRs) Will be as famous as KPIs or SMART.