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How to Use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

Last updated: 2022-03-30 11:40:41

    This document describes how to implement objective and key result (OKR) management in agile teams.

    Open Project

    1. Log in to the CODING Console and click Use Now to go to CODING page.
    2. In the menu on the left of the homepage, click Objectives to go to the team objectives page.

    A typical quarterly OKR cycle is as follows:

    The main processes of an OKR cycle include:
    Launch phase: Establish a special implementation team and formulate the specific implementation cycle and processes.
    Drafting phase: Managers set team objectives with a clear hierarchy; members set their team-based individual objectives.
    Tracking phase: Assignees update the progress in real time; the management tracks the mid-term progress of OKRs.
    Retrospective phase: All members participate in retrospective meetings and communicate by department.

    Launch Phase

    Teams implementing OKRs for the first time must confirm the implementation cycle and process, and organize OKR training for all members. If members cannot understand the OKR concept, OKRs may become another KPI tool. See Three Musketeers of Agile Performance Management: OKRs, KPIs, and CFRs for details on the concept.

    Step 1: Establish a special implementation team

    Establish an OKR implementation team (usually the human resources department and/or CEO) and organize OKR training for all members.

    Step 2: Determine the implementation cycle

    The OKR cycle is very flexible and simply needs to fit the business schedule. Faster-paced businesses such as Internet and gaming companies can set quarterly or short-term OKRs. Slower-paced businesses can set biannual or annual OKRs.

    Step 3: Define an implementation process

    All members need to understand OKRs and what they should do. Draw up all issues that need to be completed at specific OKR time points.

    Drafting Phase

    In the drafting phase, we need to start setting clear team and individual objectives. Objectives can be discussed through brainstorming or seminars. After the initial OKRs are set, all members can view all OKRs to stimulate new inspiration for collaboration or avoid duplicate work. Members can also update their individual OKRs after the discussions.

    Set team objectives

    By aligning objectives, the management sets team objectives and key results (KRs) with a clear hierarchy. KRs are assigned different weights according to their importance and priority, which will affect the subsequent calculation of the overall progress toward objectives.

    Assign KRs to assignees and participants for management. With OKRs in CODING, an assigned individual objective is associated by default to the current KR. A KR can be associated with multiple individual objectives.

    Set individual objectives

    When adopting team objectives, employees can think about the aspects in which they can contribute to the team while taking into account their personal interests, and set their team-based individual objectives.

    Key points for crafting OKRs

    When setting objectives, make sure they are:

    • Aligned with the company vision or strategy.
    • Transparent to all members.
    • Set with the full participation of employees.
    • ..Challenging.

    When setting key results, make sure they:

    • Always promote the achievement of objectives
    • Focus on 3 to 5 results
    • Are objective and measurable to accurately measure their impact on objectives.

    Tracking Phase

    In the course of OKR implementation, leaders need to communicate with employees regularly to identify and assist in clearing obstacles, and adjust and align OKRs as required. The management also needs to track progress regularly.

    Ongoing communication

    Leaders should communicate with employees on the following five key areas:

    1. Objective setting and reflections
    2. Ongoing progress updates
    3. Two-way coaching
    4. Career development
    5. Lightweight performance appraisals

    During the communication, the role of managers has changed from a supervisor to an instructor, a mentor, or a leader. The key points can be recorded on the objective details page, helping teams and individuals review the objective progress and growth path.

    Progress tracking

    Different progress modes are needed for different objective types. For example, percentage or numerical progress can be used for operational indicators, such as feature penetration rate, user growth rate, payment rate, sales, and internal efficiency. Milestones can be used for development indicators, such as feature release and DevOps pipelines. Teams can mark the current implementation status as normal, risky, falling behind, or postponed. Statuses are displayed for improvement rather than accountability. A team should analyze the factors for a lag together and adjust the countermeasures in time.

    Associate issues

    To sort out the individual or team path for implementing objectives, individuals or teams can associate relevant issues in Project Collaboration to the OKRs. For example, an objective at the organizational level may require different teams to collaborate. By associating issues, tasks scattered across projects can be observed centrally in the objective view. The task assignees can understand the significance, value, and context of the task, and the team can see the progress toward the objective.

    Retrospective Phase

    Retrospectives should include OKR reviews at the organizational, department, and individual levels. Performance appraisals are separated from the objective completion rate in the OKR model. Performance appraisals should be a step in another closed loop process.

    Focus on the following points during retrospectives:

    • Objective achievement rate
    • Problems found in this cycle and ways to improve
    • Key direction and content of work for the next cycle
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