By Gracie Koester
If the last two years have proved anything, it’s that major disruption can happen at any time. Things we thought we knew based on the past are out the window: “Even in hard times, people still spend money to go to sports games”. This lesson we drew from the 2008 recession can’t apply when sporting events are canceled.
This emphasizes that the old model of strategic planning is no longer relevant. Not only do detailed plans become stale all too quickly, but long-range planning can lead to the inclusion of too many initiatives – meaning plates are overfull and completion lags. Too often, teams get caught up in the urgent, whether or not it aligns to where you want to go.
Now we face the imperative, not the option, to build and develop the muscles of strategic agility.
What’s needed is the ability to pivot together, maintain alignment and coordination amidst change, and continue to sense and respond to emerging conditions. Strategic agility is just that: the operating framework and the culture that supports innovation, iteration, and adaptation.
It’s no wonder OKRs have become more popular over the last few years. OKRs foster strategic agility – driving focus and keeping your crew rowing together as things change, and you pivot to meet it.
In this way, OKRs help you not just deal with disruption but innovate in the midst of it. In times like these, you need the smarts of your whole crew more than ever. Yet fear and confusion block those very smarts. Changing working conditions can generate a lack of cohesion, a sense of scrambling. This is why we need a sleek system and approach that fosters coordination and innovation amidst disruption.
This is what OKRs can offer you.
RETURN ON TIME INVESTED
While time feels precious, and a sense of scrambling to catch up and adjust permeates, investing in OKR development generates the alignment and focus that is essential when you face complexity, urgency, and change.
Amidst disruption, use OKRs to:
- Define short term successes
- Pivot away from less-essential activities
- Cohere around a “sprint” to adjust to new circumstances
- Identify milestones for making the next big decisions
A few hours invested into OKR development, followed by regular touch points, will yield dividends in the form of coordinated action, disciplined experimentation, and rapid learning.
A STRATEGIC TOOL
Like any system, you can utilize OKRs to drive change, or you can mold it to continue the status quo. You can stuff a tome of priorities, initiatives, and goals into an OKR format. But you really accelerate when you use the OKR structure as a forcing function for key conversations on priorities and for the challenging decisions of where to say no.
In times like now, when responding quickly is a matter of survival, the skills you can hone through OKRs are essential. Agility, iteration, and alignment are essential fitness skills to thrive in any economy.
Whether you’re approaching OKRs for the first time, or have been using them for a while, keep in mind:
- Don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good: define the strategy enough to get started
- Imbed a cadence of learning: test, gather feedback, iterate
- Keep it simple: no more than 3 Os per team, no more than 3 KRs per O
Our species has grown and thrived amidst a multitude of changes. Indeed, you can argue that our ability to work together to meet change is what has led to our biological dominance. Now, with so much uncertainty, the challenge is on.
We want to help you thrive amidst disruption – this one, the next, and the one after that. Reach out to begin your journey with OKRs, or to level-up your game. Time is of the essence.