The Progress Principle and OKRs

okrs and the progres principleI have been doing some reading and research on OKRs – to support the teams I serve in the role of Coach.

In the process, I came across a nice introductory pub from O’Reilly and wanted to share a particular passage about celebrating wins that really stood out for me:

Introduction to OKRs

When teams are aiming high, they fail a lot. Although it’s good to aim high, missing your goals without also seeing how far you’ve come is often depressing. That’s why committing to [a] Friday wins session is so critical.

In the Friday wins session, teams all demonstrate whatever they can. Engineers show bits of code they’ve got working, and designers show mockups and maps. Every team should share something. Sales can talk about who they’ve closed, Customer Service can talk about customers they’ve rescued, Business Development shares deals. This has several benefits. One, you begin to feel like you are part of a pretty special winning team. Two, the team begins looking forward to having something to share. They seek wins. And lastly, the company begins to appreciate what each discipline is going through and understands what everyone does all day.

Providing beer, wine, cake, or whatever is appropriate to your team on a Friday is also important to making the team feel cared for. If the team is really small and can’t afford anything, you can have a “Friday Wins Jar” to which everyone contributes. But as the team becomes bigger, the company should pay for the celebration nibbles as a signal of support. Consider this: the humans who work on the project are the biggest asset. Shouldn’t you invest in them? OKRs are great for setting goals, but without a system to achieve them, they are as likely to fail as any other process that is in fashion.

Commit to your team, commit to each other, and commit to your shared future.

Weekly OKRs Challenge

My questions to you:

  • How can you use this idea with the teams you are part of?
  • How do you deal with “failure”?
  • How do you invest in “your biggest assets”?

Recommended Reading

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  • Ryan Lockard

    I have been carrying that book in my backpack for over a year now. I need to dive into it soon. I am starting to better understand OKRs myself recently. I prefer to set OKRs personally, rather than assign them out – even in my role as manager. I ask teams to review the OKRs with me when ready, but focus more on the personal objective setting. For me, I look to set objectives that drive desirable behaviors, not just achieving a metric. Given the behavior driven approach, I choose to look at “failure” as learning opportunities. Embracing my watered-down “scientific method” any objective is a hypothesis that I set out to falsify or validate. Regardless I get to learn something and improve.

    Another impressive and thought provoking post, Andy.

  • Great book. Worth a read, perhaps with a group of like minded folks.

    Or if you want the “Cleff” notes: http://andycleff.com/2016/08/agile-the-progress-principle-and-a-healthy-inner-work-life/