We’ve been giving the OKR framework a lot of attention lately. And for good reason; it’s a great agile framework that keeps your plan relevant and focused. These were the very reasons that Next Technik, an Australian-based NetSuite development firm, decided to adopt OKRs as their planning framework. But, as they began to develop their plan, they realized they needed help aligning their OKRs to a clear corporate strategic direction.
Erica Olsen and Kim Perkins recently conducted a StrategySprint™ with Next Technik’s smart and dedicated leadership team to finish their plan. Here’s what their CEO had to say about the process:
“Finally, we have a tool and a process to stop adding more to the endless list of ‘good ideas’ and stay focused on the strategic priorities to grow our business.”
-CEO of Next Technik, Australia-based High Growth SaaS Company
Here are four OKR principles we leveraged to help guide their team to develop an agile plan.
Principle #1: OKRs Need to be Driven by a Corporate Vision and Framework.
What we loved about working with Next Technik is that they’d done their homework and research on OKRs. They’d even drafted some OKRs and part of their plan. But what they quickly realized was that they needed a clear organizational vision and plan framework for OKRs to work!
The reason is simple: OKRs can easily cause puddles of focus if they’re not aligned to a clear corporate-wide strategic direction. Without a clear vision, OKRs drive focus for different departments rather than an entire organization—and it’s too likely that each department will be working in opposing directions.
TipDevelop a Vision and strategic direction first, then develop your organization-wide Objectives and Key Results as an executive team.
Principle #2: Organization Key Results Become Department Objectives.
OKRs create ownership, and that’s a beautiful thing.
But ownership without alignment creates teams pulling in multiple directions. It’s the exact reason we recommend that the organization’s Key Results become Department-wide Objectives. [See our cheat sheet for more on this!].
Organization-wide Key Results are also the Department Objectives. Then individuals create 2-3 Key Results to support the Department Objective.
Principle #3: An App Makes Implementation Tangible & Easy.
We strongly believe that an app is critical to successful implementation of an OKR cycle. It just makes monthly strategic performance reviews and quarterly reviews/refreshes much easier. Next Technik is working with our team to roll out an implementation approach using the OnStrategy App.
We like to think about the Strategic Performance Cycle as 4×90-Day Strategy Sprints. Each Sprint is comprised of 3 monthly strategy reviews to monitor progress and 1 quarterly review to review performance, refresh focus, and publish results.
Principle #4: Make the Effort to Build a Great Plan the First Time.
We really have to give it to Next Technik for their effort and dedication to build a great plan quickly. Together, we built a plan virtually in just a few short weeks!
Just like in a standard planning approach, it’s worth the upfront effort to build a great vision and solid strategic direction. And just because you can’t have in-person retreats doesn’t mean you should just skip it! Do it virtually!
Can’t have an in-person retreat? Carve out 2-3 weeks with dedicated, SCHEDULED sessions to make planning happen.
A Little Love to Next Technik.
We’ve really enjoyed working with the Next Technik team across the big pond to help them build a corporate strategy, set up their OKR framework, and set up an ongoing implementation cycle. They’re smart, well-versed in strategy and OKRs, and really put in the work to build a great plan. Plus, we always love that charming Australian sense of humor!