OKR is a method of defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.
The new year is here, and it will be here for at least 365 more days so what are your goals for this year? This was the question I threw at some friends during the last year dinner. I was eager to learn more from them; their new projects, goals, reasons to wake every morning, their dreams for the new year that was coming. I felt full of energy at that night and I honestly thought that that question mixed with some beers would help us share and believe that those things would actually be achievable.
However, I didn’t expect what actually happened afterwards. One of them looked sadly at me and said: “Goals? I suppose that it’s doing whatever is needed for not losing my job.” Another one said: “I hope this year I can go to the gym. They year before I paid and I didn’t go…” other one said: “WTF, I have not even thought about what I want to achieve …” of course, not all invitees did have that pessimistic vision of the future but it was more than fifty percent of the people. As the discussion and drinks flowed, I figured out that one reason why some of my friends hadn’t had any expectation was caused by not having a method at all. After a few drinks, I committed myself to writing about the way I do so, here it is.
This blog post aims to share with you and them (they promised they’d read it) the method I have been testing for 5 years. The method consists of 4 basic steps:
- Select the roles you play in your life.
- Identify your objectives for every role.
- Describe the key results to measure your progress.
I honestly must say that even thought it worked reasonably well, the model had been five years without suffering any major change to the model. So, 2015 which was a complete flop in terms of goals management was a questionless signal to revisit the model. In 2015 I had had my goals in mind every time and ever day but I had failed to review and to track my progress throughout the year. Hence, I began my reflect on how to improve it. This blog post you read is the experiment I’ve decided to run during this year.
Some weeks before the new year’s eve (Dec 3rd and 4th) I attended an amazing workshop about OKR facilitated by Kitty Idling at the Conference Agile Spain. I strongly recommend it. So I took advantage to learn from my own experience with okrs. So I researched more on the topic and began to replace my old goals and actions paradigm to the new approach with something called objectives and key results.
The process basically contains 3 steps in which you define your mission, set goals and define indicators to compare your current situation with what you want to get.
1st Step: Identifying Roles – Who are you?
Steven Covey wrote that the first thing you have to do is to create your vision and mission for life. One way to do it is to think about what it is important in your life. Those words resonated in my head and something connected when I read about roles for the first time. I like to think that roles describe who you are and what is important to you.
Some examples that I set for myself:
You should write down all roles in your life that comes to your mind: individual, family (son, daughter, mother or father, husband or wife), work, sportsman, blogger.
2nd Step: Identifying Objectives – What do you want to achieve?
For every role you play, you should define one or two objectives considering what you want for you and the people who interact with you. These objectives should be a simple sentence which might be inspirational. It ought to be qualitative and make some kind of impact in your world. It must be a reminder to explain to you the reasons why you wake up every morning. It has to be time-bound: quarterly objectives are better than yearly objectives because you get a faster sense of progress and your motivation increases if you feel you are reaching your objectives.
Some examples that I set for myself:
- Getting a more balance and cleanness in my mind will provide healthier relationships.
- Getting more writing skills will allow me to connect to more people.
- Getting more visibility about my monthly expenses will help me to save more money.
- Getting more skills about finance will give me more options
- Canada is calling…
- I want to run further…
3rd Step: Describing key Results: How would you know that you get there?
Key results are in some way the translation into numbers of the inspirational message contained in the objectives. Reading 3-5 books on finance, economics, and mindfulness, writing at least 12 blog posts in English or reading 40 books are some indicators to measure if you are progressing towards your goal. A useful question to ask yourself is:
How would you know if you met your objective?
Most OKR researchers recommend that key results should be challenging, difficult, not impossible. As you can read here a powerful way to visualize is setting a confidence level for each one.
This is the template word that I use for both goals and tracking.
4th Step: Pivot: Does the objective still make sense?
Every Monday morning, I assess my plan and my role in order to pivot if something has changed.
Has the role changed or evolved?
Does the objetive or key results still fit with reality?
Did I make any progress?
I am using a tracking template to reflect on these questions every Monday morning. Notice that the tracking template has only 16 weeks so that I force myself to redo the complete purpose and goals every quarter.
Last but not least, I have recently started writing a post-it with the objectives every day. I am putting the post-it in my pocket and it’s become like an anchor. It reminds me why I am doing all these things.
Event though I mentioned that this method works very well I’d like to highlight some other benefits
- Personal enrichment: You and only you can define your own goals. This activity helps me assess if what I am doing is actually important for me.
- Widen your vision (See the whole): Your behavior, actions, and decisions impact your family, working environment and the rest of the system. Seeing the world through the lens of different roles widens your vision.
- Simple: This activity as many others is very simple: you’re requested to identify your goals, objectives for these goals and their key results. If OKR seems to be complicated, use simple goals and list of possible actions to achieve those goals.
- A predefined way of thinking: This benefit might not be important to you nevertheless I need some coaching guidance and predefined questions when reflecting such important topic as the mission, vision or goals.
Thanks for sharing
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