Don´t do it! OKR: test, mistake, and solution (Chapter IV)




In the previous chapter we told you about how we learned to work as a team and how positive this has been for the entire Imagemaker ecosystem. And all for choosing the most suitable tool for us: OKRs.


In order to delve a little deeper into the subject and convey our good practices in the use of this tool, I leave you with two people from the house who could put together the film: Guillermo Crisóstomo (Delivery Director) and Francisco Schmidt (Senior Partner / Chief Revenue Officer ).


In Guillermo's words, “I had arrived at Imagemaker a few weeks ago, in the middle of the first quarter, and one of my first activities was to understand the company's strategy, having to review each of the objectives and KR defined for the Q ( "Quarter", or "quarter" in Spanish) that was in progress. My conclusions from what I saw were quite critical, ”said Crisóstomo.


Many of the KRs did not yet have defined values ​​or were oriented to a specific activity rather than a result that was wanted to be achieved with that activity. And, even though the targets met the good practice of having between 2 and 5 KR, they were quiet enough for a single Q (more than 20).


"We were fishing with a net when we should do it with a rod", were Guillermo's lucid words. “However, the team was quite cohesive, they all rowed for the same side and fought together to achieve that the results were obtained, even knowing that the objectives and key results proposed for the Q were quite challenging. By effort we would not stay, "he stressed.


“Time flew by. We are at the end of the first quarter and the fulfillment of the objectives was lower than expected, however, there was value in the fact that we could really measure how we were doing with the execution of our corporate strategy”, Francisco said.


After this process, we learned lessons that would help us to continue refining and better structuring our strategy. Not everything looked dark. We could get a fair account -if you can call it that- which gave us a better idea of ​​how things were going:


Key results that still did not have their defined metric (Ex: increase the success rate by X%) stayed the whole quarter in X ... no comment.


We had too many KRs and we realized at the end of the Q that some were overlapping and some were the same on different targets.


We developed the entire initiative backlog for the quarter in advance, wasting unnecessary time defining initiatives that were never prioritized in a sprint.


"Despite the fact that, as we thought, we were far from accomplishing everything we had planned, we achieved many things, and the team's effort could be reflected in the results," Guillermo stressed. The framework is so light and simple that you think it will work the first time, but after the first Q, you realize that having a good KR, well refined, and for a business strategy, may not be so random.


“We understood that we had a lot to improve, but we could see that in addition to what was obtained as part of meeting the objectives, we achieved something almost equally valuable: a set of learnings from both the process itself and our work. That's how powerful this stage had been. Net fishing was not effective in its entirety, but it helped us a lot to understand the ocean where we were moving ”. Poetic and clear at the same time, right?


It was not difficult to see that a handful of marked key pieces were clearly manifested:



Pay attention to the number of objectives that are committed for the quarter, as they say, "under-promise, over-deliver." Better to commit to little that is challenging and deliver, than to commit to much and be left owing.


While the theory says that a target cannot have more than 5 KRs, we always recommend having as few KRs as possible per target. Of the good stuff, a little.


Distinguishing between a KR and an initiative is sometimes confused. Our quality test is brief, ask yourself the question: is it something I want to do or something I want to achieve?


Establish an OKR monitoring cycle, establishing review, refinement, and update dates.


Define initiatives for a couple of sprints. It is not necessary to plan in advance the whole term, then practice makes them go out alone to give continuity to the work that is being done.


Check if the initiatives aim to fulfill the key results. If I manage to get this task out of the sprint, does it contribute to the fulfillment of the KR?


Involve the board of directors in refining the objectives for the quarter. Feedback is vital to be able to design objectives that are better aligned with the company's strategy and the particular situation we are experiencing.

Using agility at a strategic level keeps you constantly planning. You have to be careful with “over-planning”: Make the most of your time so as not to do, as we have said before, double work and little focus.


In short, we have learned to measure what we do, to plan periodically every quarter in a simple, fast and effective way, to know how long we need to get to our destination, to make a periodic checkpoint of progress and quality and, finally, to understand the reason for our existence, as the Force that guided Luke, Leia, and the other children. There are companies that can answer a “what”, a “how” and a “why”, but the real challenge is to be able to answer all three questions simultaneously within the organization.


We leave you a link to a guideline that is the starting point for the introduction of OKRs and reading that we recommend for those interested in deepening about this topic.


The subject of the next chapter? That will be a surprise, but one of those good ones.


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