OKRs Crossing Cultural Barriers & Industries

Feb 04, 2022

The month, we had the privilege of working with the Al Faisaliah group in Saudi Arabia – yes, onsite in their beautiful tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia!

Our very own Erica Olsen trekked across the big pond to spend a few thoughtful days with their leadership teams to stand up an OKR plan and cycle across three companies in Al Faisaliah’s holding. This includes the biggest restaurant holding company in Saudi Arabia and one of the largest medical distributors.

OKRs Work. Period.

We believe in OKRs and the agility they bring. But it was even more amazing to see how a few of the basic principles from our OKRs that Work guide can bridge cultural and industry barriers to create a shared understanding.

Here are a few of the fundamental principles we used in their OKR planning sessions and approach:

  • Set a strategic direction before you cascade. We say this a lot, but OKRs across your organization won’t align if you haven’t set a strategic direction first. Pulling in the right direction requires having a clear direction as a starting point.
  • SMART still applies. SMART goals and OKRs have a lot of similarities. They need to be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. The only difference between smart goals and OKRs is that OKRs are quarterly focused, which brings us to our next principle.
  • Think quarterly instead of annually. A massive shift from the traditional annual planning approach to OKRs focuses on creating quarterly key results and focus areas aligned to a yearly objective. The magic in OKRs is to refresh and adapt quarterly instead of annually, which is where organizational agility is created.
  • Keep the process lightweight but consistent. The biggest pitfall in any planning process – annual plans or OKRs or anything in between – is when it gets too “heavy” to update and review your plan. That’s why we recommend everyone creates three key results and keep them in focus every quarter. It’s also the reason we recommend working reviews into your regularly scheduled meeting structure. No one wants another 3-hour meeting on their schedule.

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An OKR Approach in 2 Days. Yes, 2 Days.

In two days of working sessions, helped Al Faisaliah stand up an OKR approach that will work for their organization. Of course, we weren’t shocked that OKRs could bridge different cultures and industry verticals. Still, we were pleased that these few foundational principles can help Al Faisaliah create a consistent approach to achieve their vision of success.

Great work, Al Faisaliah! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.



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