This blog post has been written in collaboration gtmhub’s Voices of OKR series and initially published here.
Some say that 10% of success comes from Strategy while 90% can be attributed to Execution. And what if it was the link from one to the other that can make or break your ability to be successful?
Throughout the years, I have had the chance to work across all the phases of the innovation and delivery lifecycle. May it be within strategy, product, or delivery, I have observed how much it can be a challenge for leaders to ensure there is a smooth relay from the initial idea and how it is being brought to the world.
From its inception to its delivery, many professionals are involved with different perspectives and expertise. Priorities do change too. This evolving and diverse context significantly influences the quality of execution of any initiative and it is not uncommon that the outcome is not in line with the initial vision. Is it possible to avoid it? Is there a way to optimize the relationship between your Strategy and Execution engines to make them work in symbiosis, to “Make Things Happen”? Yes, it is. And here are some actionable levers with OKR:
Linking strategic actions to the organization’s vision
That is the first step, yet very often overlooked. Leaders and Departments facing their whole lot of challenges and priorities, it regularly happens that the inventory of strategic initiatives actually end up quite far from what the Vision and Mission of the Organization initially stand for. This can be fixed quite easily by breaking down step by step the Vision into Strategies, into Goals and eventually into Actions.
The resulting view can be summarized in the Strategic Pyramid. Going downward, you can now define what Strategies you need to execute to deliver your Mission. Going upward, you can confirm that all the initiatives of your execution plans do help you achieve your Goals. OKRs prove to be an effective framework to create a strong link and continuous interaction between Goals and Execution, the most critical delivery relay point of that flow.
From linear to circular strategy delivery
The world is not static. Many things change. Thus, it’s essential to build an engine that is iterative, agile and allows to learn and improve on the way. While the Strategic Pyramid is a widely used visual in the industry, I believe the Strategy Delivery Engine is much better illustrated as a Loop where the teams can continuously learn and challenge their initial hypothesis. This to refine their strategies and better achieve the Vision & Mission of the Organization.
OKRs play a front-line role here. The introduction of Key Results brings a Data Driven approach to the strategic execution exercise and encourages everyone to use figures to assess and discuss goals, progress, and learnings.
From Delivery oriented to Value-oriented
If you have delivered all the tasks on your list but the objective is not achieved, would you call it a good day, or a year? Well, that is what many leadership teams are facing when it comes to their Delivery Engine. Their Roadmap is fed by great ideas turned initiatives. These initiatives are carefully broken down into deliverables. The teams get their fair share of work to make it happen and – at best – everyone celebrates the collective effort to “ship” it.
A good Delivery Engine would make this happen smoothly, avoid double work, and minimize days of standby because another team is on critical path. A great Delivery Engine would ask you: What are the Outcomes you’re after?
OKRs can help organizations tremendously by keeping their team connected to the end goal, as measured by a metric. They eliminate interpretation and provide teams with more autonomy when it comes to deciding which direction to take to create that Value. Again, Key Results are strong enablers here. It is not only about setting them but about making them visible and part of the constant dialogue between the teams and hierarchical levels.
Wherever you are in your journey, the good news is that all these improvements are not too far away. OKRs are a simple and highly effective framework to empower your teams to deliver collectively and collaboratively. Wondering what shall be the next step? I advise starting with a diagnostic and see from there. There are various tools and methodologies to do so. For a first quick Scan, you can click here.