OKRs

The Objective of this blog post is to “Write an epic introductory text to OKRs” as measured by :

  1. Increase in the shares of this post by 3x the average share of other posts on the blog.
  2. 20% increase in the total number of followers through this blog post.
  3. Increase in author-reader interaction by 2x after this post.

OKR definitions, its advantages, its proponents etc. is a very widely discussed and highly documented text that can be accessed all around the world wide web. The objective of this article is, however, to let readers dive into doing it themselves and get a flavour of how hard it is to get it right. I would also like to touch upon what happens when you get it right.

Defining the objectives and key results of this post itself took me around 30-35 minutes. As you can see the objective in itself is non measurable. As an author of the post I am always of the view that the content I am pushing out is epic. It is not. Unless there is a scale to measure the epic-ness, I will never constructively move forward on that front, or be very slow in actually getting to the level where I want to be.

E.g. If you are writing an op-ed in the WSJ your objective can be to “write the best opinion the newspaper has ever published”. If you measure this as the result “1 million views”, you in essence, are at max shooting to achieve mediocrity. There are more than 2.5 million active readers of the WSJ. The best opinion article would have to garner at least 3 million views as a lot of users view the articles in incognito free story modes (cause its cheap that way). Hence having a scale to measure the epic-ness always comes in handy while doing the OKR process.

Key results should not make you feel at ease. The key results for your objective should always make you feel out of the comfort bubble. It is not really a key result if it did not make you go out of your current way to achieve it. Key results should make you learn something more about yourself, the market and the ways of going about doing work. Since it is always a catch up game to your key result, you should also be ready to fail. Definition of failure changes here.

A measure of Pass and Fail for individual key results.
  1. The first objective is a pass for me at 60%. I know how tough it is to make people share a post. With sharing comes a stamp that the post is worth the time. To get 20 shares, I would have to reach at least 250 people who absolutely love the article. This is bit of a stretch goal given for any given article my overall viewership is 600-650 and average share is 6. Hence this is a stretch goal and I would consider it a win if I can hit 12.
  2. I am achieving more in the second result (as a percentage 66 over 60) and still I consider it a fail. Given that a normal blog post earns me 4 new followers, a post of this stature where I am clocking 12 shares should give me at least 10 if not 12 followers (given the readership is a lot of us working for the first time or working in a startup, I would expect this post to resonate). Akin to growth goal for a business.
  3. This is a BAU (business as usual goal). I want to clock more views, so that apart from the organic reach of this blog, I am able to garner more readership which will give me a motivation to put out more material. This key result is akin to a business continuity goal and has to be met at least 80% for me to consider a PASS on this.

A KR which is 100% achievable at the end of the cycle or begins to show tendency of a 100% achievement during the cycle isn’t a true KR. It is just another R.

E.g. I run a lot. If I were to start my run thinking, I need to finish 5k today, I would be able to do it. Easy. If I were to start thinking of running a 5k in 19 mins, I might not be able to speak the letters O K R. That is the kind of target you are setting yourself when you get into an OKR process.

Towards the beginning of the career it seems very daunting and tough to have a forward looking goal, specially when you are in a state of flux. OKRs help you go through the flux while still maintaining a decent output towards your Uber objective is what I have experienced. This brings me to another aspect of OKRing : Flexibility.

  1. OKRs were not spelled by Jesus. They were defined by you. You are human and can sometimes over-under estimate. OKRs are editable. Just don’t enter the OKR cycle knowing you will have an eraser in your hand. Think of it as asking for an eraser in JEE exam. You might be held for cheating and thrown out : It is a super risky business.
  2. OKRs are not a measure of ability. Sometimes just to move that percent marker by a couple of points everything seems like a good option. It is not. Always take pragmatic decisions to move closer to a result. OKRs are okay to be not achieved. Health and mental well being are.
  3. Try practising OKRs in personal life. For a week or so. You will see how tough it is to define them and then to go ahead and achieve them. But this will give you confidence in doing this is your business environment, with confidence.

The following are some pointers to keep in mind while getting into the OKR cycle :

  1. Questions.
    • Why are we going to have this as our objective ?
    • How will this affect the org/me when it is done ?
  2. Reviews.
    • How often will the health check be for the defined OKRs ?
  3. Buy in.
    • OKRs don’t make sense if everyone is chasing different legs of an octopus. Going for the head and then using the legs as you please is a better approach. Buy ins from all stakeholders on the objective is paramount to successful OKR cycle.
  4. Quality over Quantity
    • While there might be a lot of temptation to get a lot of things done, more is not always the best approach to achieve objectives. Prioritising and working towards the top 3-4 key results lets me have more depth of whatever I am into.
  5. All results are not equal
    • As humans we can only objectively compare between numbers but that doesn’t mean all numbers are the same. 5 oranges vs 5 Bananas. Ask a tennis player, they’ll have different preferences off and on court.

Seems like a lot of text from novice, but yes it is what it is ๐Ÿ˜›

I loved reading stories about OKRs and thought it would be better to pen something down about it. This post was about penning down what I love. I might consider making it the objective of running this blog after all. ๐Ÿ˜€

A little funny something ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

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SST View All →

A graduate from BITS Pilani, class of 2019, I am currently working as a Product Manager at Flipkart. I like to write about things that get stuck in my head. By writing I make sure everyone knows what absurd thoughts I have :P Thanks for visiting.

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