Blog Inside Akvo

Notes from Amsterdam’s first OKR forum

For those who deliver all of your duties, and nothing improves, are you successful?

This query was dropped by Felipe Castro on the first Goals and Key Outcomes (OKRs) forum in Amsterdam, an event that brought collectively OKR specialists and lovers from around the globe.

Nice questions convey fascinating answers, and this one had me considering for the remainder of the day. Afterward, Jan Paul van Vliet helped me join the dots when he argued that being engaged at work was not the identical as being productive.

For somebody who has, by selection, solely worked for nonprofits, this struck a chord. Engagement isn’t arduous to return by in the sector. We’re all striving to realize formidable objectives and drive sustainable change. However a scarcity of assets leaves many nonprofits with little capacity to plan, coordinate or monitor their work. Individuals are often juggling a thousand balls directly, and when one drops, someone else picks it up. We need to make things better. We fill within the gaps as we go.

Given my background in business administration, and my give attention to advertising and communications, I’ve all the time seen the worth in bringing business approaches to the nonprofit sector. While it’s folks that realise objectives, I’m robust believer that the proper techniques, buildings and processes will help us get there quicker.
When you ship all of your tasks, and nothing improves, are you successful? / By way of @meetfelipe at the #OKRForum #OKRAmsterdam / Click on To Tweet

So how do you ensure that the actions you’re engaged in truly get you nearer to your organisation’s mission? That’s the place OKRs are available. And that’s why I spent a full day on the first #OKRforum in Amsterdam final week, learning from the direct expertise of those who have rolled them out.

OKRs in a nutshell

OKRs is an increasingly fashionable administration framework that permits organisations to implement technique and monitor progress in the direction of objectives. A number of the principal advantages of this framework embrace improved focus, elevated transparency and higher alignment.

At Akvo, we rolled out OKRs inside the advertising staff and the Akvo Movement group in 2017. Different groups joined initially of 2018 and started brazenly sharing their priorities and focus points. As we put together for 2019, we are exploring the potential for rolling them out globally.

We need to contribute to sustainable and inclusive influence as shortly and effectively as attainable. We’ve all the time worked to disrupt the sector and alter the best way knowledge and tech is utilized by organisations and governments. So why not adopt a strategy that has been successfully rolled out across hundreds of know-how associated organisations as nicely?

Briefly, an OKR consists of two issues:

  • Goal: A simple, memorable, and galvanizing objective
  • Key Outcomes: Targets to measure progress in the direction of the target

For instance, an organisational degree OKR might seem like this:

Goal: Delight our partners
Key outcome 1: Achieve a Internet Promoter Rating (NPS) of 9 from our partners
Key outcome 2: Realise a customer retention price of 98%
Key end result 3: Improve software usage by 50%

By default, an OKR ought to give a reasonably clear indication of what success appears like. It ought to be formidable (however real looking), measurable (either with a proportion, or a quantity based mostly on a selected metric), public (any degree of the organisation can see it) and aligned (hold everyone targeted and shifting in the same course).
Individuals realise objectives. Processes, techniques and buildings don’t. / By way of @jpvvliet on the #OKRForum #OKRAmsterdam Click on To Tweet

The framework is fairly simple and permits everybody to move from an output-based considering (what are we doing?) to an outcome-based strategy (what benefit will our work deliver?). What I like most about OKRs is that they help talk firm strategy to the entire organisation and translate it into actionable gadgets for every staff.

My takeaways from the event

With a crew of 16 speakers and over 200 attendees, the conversations between talks have been as enriching because the talks themselves. The attendees have been a enjoyable bunch of accountability nerds, transparency advocates, agile evangelists and general, individuals occupied with working smarter slightly than more durable.

The “Now I know” mannequin. On how OKRs can enhance correlation between engagement and efficiency.

By way of Jan Paul van Vliet.

At the occasion, we acquired perception into how this framework truly works, how it can be rolled out in organisations of several sizes, and what the standard wins and pitfalls are. OKRs will not be the holy grail. They’re just a framework. As with the whole lot, it’s as much as the individuals using them to make them work. So here my important takeaways from the occasion:

  • Outline a transparent “why?”: Get clarity on why you need to do do OKRs in your organisation and much more readability on why the chosen aims matter. Let everybody within the organisation know why they need to care.
  • Focus: Begin with a brief variety of organisational OKRs (one to 3). This creates focus in the organisation and guides efforts and initiatives for the other teams to provide you with their OKRs.
  • Widespread language: OKRs are a good way to create a standard language for individuals to debate priorities, technique, and afterward search for ways to translate this into measurable motion. This will align groups and improve collaboration each vertically and horizontally.
  • Transparency: OKRs allow teams to know organisational focus and allow  teams to turn out to be chargeable for their goals, setting clear success criteria and creating full accountability for everyone.
  • Agility: Set goals annually, however define key outcomes quarterly. Shorter aim cycles permit teams to adjust quicker, scale back danger and give attention to what really matters.
  • Endurance: Give it time and goal for good, moderately than good. OKRs are easy, however easy just isn’t straightforward. Failing is part of the training process. OKRs are troublesome to put in writing and to trace. It takes some iterations to get it right.
  • Discover out what works for you: Each organisation has a special mission and distinct values and dynamics. Each organisation ought to find the best way OKRs work for them. My foremost takeaway from Christoph van der Klaauw, who shared his expertise at Travelbird.
  • Separate outcomes from outputs: OKRs ought to be an inspirational and qualitative description of what we need to obtain and must be separate from actions completed that will help you get there.
  • Involve the individuals at the prime, from the beginning: The leadership staff must be OKR position models. If there isn’t a buy in from the top, they are going to be almost certainly fail.
  • Who’s in your OKR workforce. You want some ambassadors. A devoted group of people to maintain the flame and momentum going.
  • Move FAST:  Alla Alimova’s inspired us with the story of Ebay, and introduced us on her journey with the FAST strategy, a 4 part solution to see how OKRs produce advantages. Ebay is true within the middle.
  • It’s about saying NO: Through the event, it turned clear to me that OKRs usually are not about what you say YES to, however truly about what you say NO to. It’s extremely troublesome to succeed in such a degree of simplicity and focus, and one can only achieve this by discarding belongings you don’t prioritise.
  • Piggy again on your present processes: Introduce OKRs to your weekly verify ins and maintain monitor of three issues. Progress (how are we doing with each OKR?), problems (which problems are we dealing with?), and plans (what are we planning to do subsequent week about them?)
  • Prepare, implement, keep: Melanie Wessels was within the workforce accountable of rolling out OKRs to the 17,000 staff at “Create a winning team. Roll them out. And then maintain, maintain and maintain.” She suggested.

Other fascinating stuff that also caught my attention

  • OKRs and KPIS: OKRs are totally different to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), but they encompass them. Whereas OKRs show you how to outline your strategic objectives and determine how you will obtain them, KPIs enable you to measure performance towards your objectives. In that method, KPIs are an necessary element of OKRs. One feeds into the opposite.
  • OKRs and efficiency evaluations: It is extremely essential to decouple OKRs from performance critiques and compensation. Using stretch objectives, even partially, enable groups to set bolder, tougher objectives. When tied to performance, this could lead to sand bagging, encouraging individuals to purpose decrease and hold things protected.
  • OKRs and cultural values: OKRs are a good way of mirroring core organisational values and reflecting upon how these are being lived inside the organisation. How would values like “open,” “transparent” and “innovative” look when measured towards key results?
  • OKRs throughout totally different groups: It’s attainable, and actually recommendable, to have cross practical teams share OKRs.

“Misalignment” by Henrik Kniberg

So what’s next?

We’re heading toward a worldwide roll out of OKRs in 2019. For a dispersed and tiny multinational organisation like Akvo, this might help us work together in a complementary means and measure progress in line with actual knowledge. We’ve already created Akvo’s Concept of Change, which describes what we need to obtain as an organisation and the way we intend to get there. But how does every workforce contribute to this shared imaginative and prescient? What do we need to focus and which brief time period and mid term objectives do we need to achieve to be able to make it occur? This is where we belief that OKRs will help in maintaining as focussed. In the event you’re thinking about talking about any of this, simply get in contact by way of LinkedIn or ping me by way of Twitter.

I’ve also put collectively an inventory of studying that I’ve found useful along the best way, you will discover it under this publish. For the moment, hat tip to Allan Nunes Messias (Pc Futures) and Johannes Muller (Workpath) for becoming a member of forces and organising an excellent event. Congrats to all the audio system as properly. I’ll undoubtedly be attending the subsequent one and who is aware of, perhaps even sharing the success story of a tiny multinational with huge goals.

Alvaro de Salvo is Head of International Advertising and Communications at Akvo, based mostly in Amsterdam. You possibly can comply with him on Twitter @aj_desalvo

In case you are involved in OKRs, you may need to read:

  • High Output Administration (by Andrew S. Grove)
  • Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Basis Rock the World with OKRs (by John Doerr)
  • Step by Step Guide to OKRs (by Alexander Maasik)
  • Aims and Key Outcomes: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs (by Paul R. Niven and Ben Lamorte)
  • The rookies information to OKRs (Felipe Castro)
  • Radical Focus: Attaining Your Most Essential Objectives with Goals and Key Outcomes (by Christina R Wodtke and Marty Cagan)