The OKR practice implemented by Google in 1999 is powerful way to set the cadence for your organization. This practice ensures that people are going in the same direction, having clear priorities, and maintaining a collective rhythm.
One of my clients, Corey Waite, stated an Objective this way: “Team dashboard designs are completed and operational.” The Key Results were:
- Configuration of each team member’s dashboard is agreed upon
- Final dashboard beta delivered
- Beta dashboards are rolled out
- After initial use, feedback is given and analyzed
- Dashboard format is refined and implemented
How Key Results Are Achieved
Once you have defined a set of OKRs to achieve your Future Picture, decide HOW you will accomplish each Key Result. The How is typically a Checklist of Tasks—specific actions to be taken, who will ‘own’ them, and when they are due. The tasks are where the ‘rubber hits the road.’
You do not need to identify every task A-to-Z, but you do need to be crystal clear about your Next Step for each Key Result and then focus sharply on accomplishing it.
A powerful example of the need to focus sharply on the Next Step is in the sport of rock climbing. You know your Key Result— reach the summit of a natural rock formation.
You also know that if you fail to get the Next Step right you may not reach the top. Even worse, Next Step failure could be catastrophic.
A few years ago, I collaborated with David Allen, founder of “Getting Things Done.” We were coaching the CEO of an international institute on accelerating action in the organization.
David is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal productivity. We quickly concluded that we had similar views on the importance of having no ambiguity about the Next Step required to move something forward.
David discovered this in his work with thousands of clients over many years. He found that 90% of his clients had To Do lists that were incomplete inventories of still-unclear tasks. In David’s system, you “Clarify” by identifying the next action needed to move you toward closure.
The Next Step discipline is simple: always identify and act on the Next Step required to achieve your Key Result. That is how you get things done.
“If we only knew what we know.”
— Jerry Junkins
“The volume and complexity of what we have to deal with have exceeded our ability to remember what to do.” ~ Atul Gawande
At the end of an action cycle, there is a window of opportunity to learn how to improve next time.