Incapacitating your system with OKRs: Misconception Extravaganza! 

Misconceptions about OKRs can incapacitate your system. Avoid activity-based KRs and ensure alignment with organizational strategy for effective results.

Abandon your posts if you are experiencing the following misconceptions. But don’t worry, there are antidots. 

Activity based KRs

  • Finish 3 Epics.
  • Clean out 50% of the backlog.
  • Have 75% progress on the project. 
  • Deliver 5 training sessions. 
  • Finish 50 Story Points. 
  • Write 100 rows of code. 
  • Come to work every day at 9.00 am. 
  • Say my name 3 times in front of the mirror.

Ok, these are not Key Results. These are not even “results”. Unless you have a contract saying, “I’ll pay you 100 million dollars if you finish 3 Epics”. 

These are some activities or indicators that may or may not be helpful for taking preventive or corrective actions toward your goals. 

Long distance relationship KRs

Let’s say your objective says: “Our website will be very fast like Speedy Gonzales.”

And this is your key result: “0% system downtime in 3 months.” 

If we keep the website up and running, we can test it for speed. And maybe if we keep the website up under heavy load, it can be very fast. What? Why? Yeah, can you say you achieved your goal?

Local OKRs

“Our team is awesome; we are the only ones in the organization that are using OKRs. I’m pretty sure everyone is jealous!”  

Well, you are not awesome, and you are most probably disconnected from the strategy of your organization. Imagine your front left tire has decided to change itself to summer tires while climbing a mountain at below-zero temperatures. 

Impossible to Measure KRs

– Guys! Let’s measure if the average molar mass of our Carbon Dioxide production in our offices has decreased.  

– *Someone opens a window*

Using OKRs without purpose

“Let’s use OKRs because everyone is using it!” 

Like Merovingian says: “Without it you are powerless. And this is how you come to me, without “Why.”, without power. Another link in the chain. 

Oh, the sweet combination of lacking quantitative analysis capabilities with an extremely hyped method, yielding into a dillusional playground for some numbers.

What are the antidots?

Here are some questions: 

  1. Which problems are you trying to resolve by using OKRs?
  2. What do you think the benefits of OKRs are?
  3. Does everyone understand this purpose and the benefits? 
  4. Do you feel excited when you hear the Objective statement?
  5. When you ask “Why” multiple times, can you answer that explains the causal relation with the company strategy, goals, vision, mission, etc.? 
  6. Do you think you will reach the objective when all the key results are achieved?
  7. Do you think you will reach the objective when one or more key results are not achieved?
  8. Can you measure the key results without too many chores?
  9. Is there a causal relation between your Key Results and the Objective? 
  10. Is there a causal relation between your OKRs and the OKRs at higher level? 
  11. Is the Objective statement qualitative?  
  12. Are the Key Results quantitative and outcome oriented? (“Deliver 10 projects” is not a key result.)
  13. Are your OKRs easy to understand? 
  14. Are there any cadence, rules, policies, and agreements integrated in your organization system to follow-up your OKRs with full transparency and discipline?

Ok, but how?

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