OKR & Agile: The perfect match.

10 minutes reading

re.set - Training

Many companies are adopting a system of OKRs as a way of measuring results, following the example of leaders such as Google, which has used them since the 1990s. We applaud this initiative; it may be a small step, but without a system that integrates these OKRs as part of the transformation towards new work methodologies, this step can become a stumble.

OKRs, the map that puts companies on the right path.

Let's start by defining what an OKR is. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are a system for achieving objectives. A fundamental tool for companies to define their direction, what their goals are and how they are going to measure results. It’s a perfect way to establish the value of day-to-day work and define why and what it is done for. Sounds good, right? However, this doesn’t function in all types of organizations. Let's see why.

When a company works with Agile Methodologies, it defines its OKRs and the different Squads decide which of them are going to be the most important. For this to really work, a decentralized system made up of empowered teams with high decision-making capacity is necessary.

With Agile Methodology, a cascade effect is established where the company OKRs are connected with those of the teams. The work of each one of the Squads directly impacts one, or several, OKRs of the company. For this reason it’s essential to have employees with decision-making power who constantly execute and measure progress towards the achievement of objectives.

All the Squads set out in the same direction, each one rowing in its own way, but all towards the same destination. This is the case because each team chooses its OKRs and defines the initiatives to achieve them, but all of them have the ultimate goal of impacting the company's OKRs. There is a roadmap.

Iteration, the key to getting back on the right path if you’ve strayed.

One of the greatest advantages of using OKR in Agile Methodologies is being able to iterate in Sprints of one or two weeks. Initiatives are defined every so often and the result is constantly measured. In this way there is always time to act, propose new initiatives or assess whether each OKR really makes sense. It’s a way of taking the pulse of the company's progress on an ongoing basis. In each Sprint the percentage of progress of the work and the achievement of the objectives are valued, thanks to this the day-to-day has a why and a how.

In addition, with the cultural shift towards Agile Methodologies, the company's strategy is seen in a transparent way through its OKRs. There is a specific and clear goal to be reached, which encourages the teams to propose sustained initiatives to reach said goal and check the results, get out of their comfort zone and think independently. Work is no longer what you do from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to “fulfill your hours”, but something concrete and defined that leads you to a certain destination.

To define an OKR, the two facets of which it’s composed must be taken into account:

(Objective): the qualitative part, the motivation or goal that you want to reach.

KR (Key Result): the measurable part, something that expresses the progress in the achievement of that objective.

Thanks to the iteration, the progress of the OKRs can be seen and possible errors can be corrected or new paths can be attempted.

Agile & OKRs, the alliance of strategy and methodology.

At re.set we always clearly saw the advantage of combining an OKR system, which alludes to the company's strategy, with an Agile Methodology, which alludes to the way to execute that strategy.

OKRs without a methodology behind them can end up becoming mere KPIs, a good management tool, but not for innovation or continuous improvement, which is what Agile provides.

We have come across organizations that have told us in their case the use of Agile hasn’t worked. In those cases we only had to begin to study them to realize that they were not applying an Agile Methodology with multidisciplinary teams given decision-making capacity, but a mere use of OKR as a way of measuring results. If we really want that “Perfect Match”, we have to integrate the OKRs within a much deeper methodology and transformation process. You have to risk in order to win.

And now the big question. Are you clear about your objectives, the initiatives that would lead you to achieve them and how to measure progress? We can help you achieve it.

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