How to Build OKRs into Your Business

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This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Microsoft Tech Community - Latest Blogs - .

One of the biggest questions we get here at Viva Goals is: I understand the value of OKRs—but how do I actually make them work in my business? 

 

We have a good answer for this one: By building OKRs into your organization's existing business rituals—like team meetings and town halls—and existing systems of work—like Microsoft Teams, data sources like PowerBI, and project management tools you use everyday.

 

But putting this into practice is another story :smile: Change management is a challenge in any organization. This is where we turn to the four C's: Collaborate, Create, Check In, and Close. 

 

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Let me take you through each of these stages and what they look like in an organization, so you walk away with a clear picture of how to build OKRs into your business. 

 

Collaborate 

The starting point in building the OKR rhythm into your organization is collaboration. As a leadership team, this could mean sitting down and having a healthy debate about the Objectives (Goals), Key Results (Measurable Results) and Key Initiatives (work your teams will take to achieve the OKRs) that will guide the rest of your organization's OKRs, prioritizing and "cutting your darlings," so to speak.

 

At the department or team level, this may include brainstorming innovations and ideas that your organization wants to incubate and track progress on. ​

 

No matter which level your collaborating at, the Collaboration stage can be broken down into three parts: 

 

  • Brainstorming: Take your learnings from previous quarters through post-mortems, retros, and reflection sessions to understand your wins, blockers and learnings. One template often used is "start, stop, continue": What do you want to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing as an organization or team? This feedback should then be applied to your OKRs. It is also important to brainstorm on innovative and creative ways to align back to the strategy. If your team is quite large with multiple layers, we recommend having strategic meetings well in advance because this phase is often the most tedious. 
  • Alignment: It is important not to set OKRs in a silo. It is important to make sure that all cross functional teams are aligned on priorities, dependencies and accountabilities.
  • Handshake: Finally we go into the "handshake" mode, where everyone agrees with proposed OKRs. One key mistake we see here is skipping a session to talk through OKRs and make sure everyone is on the same page. 

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Create 

Once you've prioritized and aligned in the Collaborate stage, it's time to create OKRs in Viva Goals. This process should feel seamless and helps you put your strategies into action, in one source-of-truth location.

 

You can create OKRs directly within your Viva Goals workflow, and connect Viva Goals to data sources like PowerBI so that you don't have to manually pull in data when it's time to check in. 

 

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Check In 

Too often, goals languish because teams fall into the "set it and forget it" trap. For any goal-setting and management system to be successful, you must create dedicated times in the week, month, and quarter for team members to check in on their OKRs.

 

One blocker for driving this behavior in organizations is that goal management is not happening in the locations where employees naturally are spending their time, which is why the Viva Goals/Microsoft Teams integration (or Viva Goals/Slack integration) is so critical. 

 

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The other blocker we see to a goal-centric culture taking root is not making goals a part of business rhythms that already exist, like town halls, team meetings, and 1:1s. Review dashboards in Viva Goals ensure that team members are keeping their OKRs up-to-date, and put OKRs at the center of every business activity, creating structure and a growth mindset that your team may be missing today.

 

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Close 

The Close stage comes at the end of the dedicated time period, usually at the end of the quarter. This is when team members who have been assigned OKRs make their final assessment, and provide context about why they did or didn't achieve the agreed upon goals. This gives your team the fuel (and learnings) to iterate and evolve in the quarter(s) to come.  

 

The 5th C: Communication

If you make a change for the better in your organization and no one knows about it or their role in it...did you make a change? It's important to communicate the expectations and benefits of OKRs to all participants in your organization. For more resources to help with this, check out our adoption page, including an adoption guide and OKR success toolkit.

 

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