Why OKRs Fail Without a Vision

Jul 27, 2021

In today’s video, we will be discussing how OKRs fail with a vision. Without a vision, OKRs are just a mess. We will discuss how not to do that through examples and our experience with our clients.


Today’s segment is about OKRs that fail without a vision, and it’s part of our simplified approach to OKRs series. So, if you haven’t seen or read the other segments, check them out first. as we get started, remember that without a vision, OKRs are just a mess. Or as we like to call them at OnStrategy, people just create OKR puddles. So, let’s review how not to do that.

What are OKR Puddles?

Here are some examples. Often the executive team gets together and creates a vision and a strategic plan with a direction and a roadmap, and then somebody on the team sends out a bunch of OKR worksheets and the OKRs come back from the teams and they’re not connected in any way, shape, or form to where you’re going as an organization. We call this an OKR puddle. So don’t follow this scenario because `there’s nothing simple about an OKR puddle.

Setting Company-Wide OKRs

One way to fix this is with your vision in mind, create company-wide OKRs that start to inform what about the vision you are going to do or tackle this year. However, once you have those company-wide annual OKRs, everybody again goes and creates their OKRs, and you still end up with an OKR puddle. Not helpful.

Setting OKRs That Work

However, to solve that problem, we recommend based on your vision creating really clear company-wide objectives to start with. Where are we going this year? And everybody on the team is then asked to specifically align to one or more of the O’s for the year so that the OKRs are very perfectly and clearly aligned to move forward the company O, which then moves forward the vision. The magic on that is that these O’s are really clear, really concise, and very much translate the vision into what we’re trying to get done this year. So, that’s how you prevent creating an OKR puddle.

Here’s a Couple More Tips:

  • Concrete Vision: The vision has to be concrete and clear about your future state and where you’re really going for it to work. If you need help with your vision, check out these resources:
    1. Check out our “How to Write a Vision Statement” video
    2. Then, translate what you learned to our free, downloadable Vision Canvasing Guide
  • Annual Targets: You must translate that big vision to annual targets that are concrete.
  • Setting OKRs: Do not get rid of self-directed OKR setting. Send out those worksheets but make sure that there’s really clear alignment noted in the worksheets and that the company-wide O’s are really concrete, as we noted above.
  • Team OKRs: Team OKRs are great. They don’t have to be individual OKRs. Check out our video on team OKRs for more information on these.

So that’s how you avoid an OKR puddle by making sure that your vision is directly connected to everyone’s OKRs.

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