How to start with OKRs - The OKRs Owl part 2/4
In this second part of The OKRs Owl series we look at how to get started with OKRs. Missed part 1? Practical Examples of OKRs.
What’s stopping you from starting your OKRs journey? Perhaps you feel you have too much else going on at the moment to give it proper attention? Are you still not entirely sure about how OKRs will help? Or do you simply lack the motivation to crack on?
If any (or all!) of these resonate, you might benefit from a concept called Forcing Function. Here we’ll discuss what it means and how it can help you start your OKRs journey.
Quite simply, forcing function is about creating your own catalysts to make change happen.
Take making software as an example. Forcing function refers to the ideas that designers and developers implement to ‘force’ the people using that software to take certain actions. For example, if clicking a particular button will show an error message, the designer may disable the button in these situations. In this way, they prevent the user from seeing negative things and force them to take a happier path.
Through forcing function, the designer has realigned the user’s priorities and redirected them towards a more suitable and effective goal.
What does this have to do with OKRs?
Many people we speak to are interested to learn about OKRs, but have no tangible plan to implement them into their team.
This means that at the point of making a decision about whether to proceed, they’ll simply put it on their future to-do list and carry on with their current (often ineffective) processes. They’re keen to change, but they don’t have a strong enough incentive to make it happen.
Conversely, those clients who approach us with an active attitude and an eagerness to get started as soon as possible, are the ones who see the quickest results.
What’s the difference between the two?
Forcing function to start your journey with OKRs
It’s all very well to know where you’d like to be on your OKRs journey, but quite another to actually get there.
If you apply the principles of forcing function to your approach, you’ll make it almost impossible not to reach your OKRs goals.
Here are a few ways you can force function to get started.
Have you done it yet? Set a deadline that is. If you’re serious about starting your OKRs journey but are yet to begin it, it’s worth setting some tight timescales.
Put in some milestones with clear, concrete deadlines against them. Better still, share those deadlines with your team and stakeholders so you’re accountable to them.
For example, instead of stating that your goal is to ‘implement OKRs’, set specific goals;
- Have 3 teams set up and tracking their OKRs by end of Q1
- Provide necessary support, relevant tools, and encourage experimentation
- Create a safe, environment where failing is seen as a learning opportunity
- Use the time to learn what works and where our challenges are
It’s so easy to put off your OKRs journey if it feels like too much work or you’re daunted by the prospect of something new. But once you have a clear plan of what you need to do and when you’re going to do it, you’ll feel a renewed sense of motivation to get started.
Why are you keen to try OKRs and what problems could it solve? Before you consider starting your journey, you’ll need to flag some markers to know if it's working for you.
For example, let’s say you’re aware that there’s a lack of clarity around the direction, strategy, and prioritisation in the business. You could address this by setting your long term strategies and then aligning all of your OKRs to those. By doing this you may discover that some tasks don’t currently align to any strategies. You can then take action and align them accordingly, or scrap them altogether if you realise they’re not worthwhile.
A key aspect of forcing function to start your OKRs journey is to know what you’re aiming to achieve. Sit down with your team or manager and write down some really clear success metrics (and discuss what happens if you don’t achieve them).
Have you ever heard the expression, “I had so many things to do, I didn’t know where to start. So I didn’t”?
If you prioritise where you want to get to, and how you’ll know when you get there, you’ll take your first, active step towards starting your OKRs journey.
OKRs are most effective when they include stretch targets. The reason for this is that the higher you aim, the further you’ll get. Setting stretch targets is hugely motivating - and the more motivated you are, the more likely you’ll take action.
So, one of the best ways to force function is by setting really ambitious goals and targets for yourself and your team.
- Perhaps your goal is to have OKRs in place by the end of the year. So why not make it the end of the month? The latter is far more likely to inspire you to take action now!
- Want to cut down the volume of unnecessary meetings you have? Set a target to halve your weekly meetings within the first three months of using OKRs. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
- Does your team keep missing project deadlines? Set the goal, not just to meet your deadlines, but to beat them. Finish projects a day early and use your additional day to run a team retro with a fun quiz thrown in at the end!
There’s no better way to assess the value of a product than using it. We could create the most compelling sales plans and marketing campaigns to try and convince prospects of why OKRs are so powerful. But we tend to let our software do the talking for us.
We find that clients who sign up to a free trial of our Just3Things OKRs platform tend to see the value in a matter of days. With our support, they also get up to speed on how it works more quickly than reading user manuals or sales material.
You can force function on your OKRs journey by jumping in and signing up for a free trial, even if you’re not completely bought in.
The worst that can happen? You decide it’s not for you and chalk it up to a valuable test. The best that can happen? You see its enormous potential for your team and have hands on experience of using it.
If you’re eager to dive in and get started on your OKRs journey, we’d love to help! We can set you up with a free trial of our OKRS software with a simple flick of a switch. Then, we’ll be on hand to guide and support you as you get up to speed and enjoy its many benefits.
Eager for the next part?
Part 3 of The OKRs Owl series is all about Measuring OKRs and how you know if (and when) your implementation of OKRs has been successful. The good news is it’s all down to you! The bad news is it’s ALL down to you!
The way you measure OKRs is made up of a myriad of factors from their impact on your company objectives, to their effect on your clients. While it’s tempting to set up simple, easily achievable success metrics, this may only tell half the story.
Here are the other parts of the series:
- Practical examples of OKRs
- How to get started with OKRs (that's this one!)
- How to measure OKRs
- Goal-gradients and motivation