A few days back , we facilitated an OKR ( Objective & Key Result) session for the one of the teams remotely. We would like to share our learning from the session.
Our pre-OKR session preparation gave us good insights into what we were heading into. Our pre-work included the following:
1. Designing the session –
Our preparation included looking at and leveraging the various source of information available within the organization as well as the industry recommended OKR practices.
As facilitators, our objective was to keep the session engaging, interactive, generate curiosity and invoke discussions/debate. We had number of discussions, iterations and finally we planned to use some of the facilitation techniques like celebrity interview, 1–2–4-ALL. Details on the techniques can be found at Liberating structures. We used MS Teams as the online collaboration tool.
2. Leader prep –
We spent some time with the leader before the session to walk him through the agenda and get a view of the program’s vision.
During the session:
1) We started off with the leader sharing the following with participants
a. What’s working well
b. What are the challenges
c. The vision and goal for the quarter.
Themes were arrived based on the vision shared and formed the base for co-creating the objectives.
2) During the objective and Key Result setting, the discussions were engaging, interactive with lot of back and forth. The participants used fist of five for collective consensus and confidence to agree on an objective.
3) During the conversation, some of the challenges and questions around the measurement of the key results surfaced. The participants decided to work on those questions/challenges post session.
The conversations provided a vehicle, language and process to make value driving discussions.
Questions to ask while setting up the objectives:
· What are you trying to achieve?
· Why does it matter?
· Does the statement inspire you?
· Does the objective pass our two Objective tests?
o Double Shot of Espresso test: is the Objective as energizing as a double shot of espresso in the morning?
o Townhall test: if the objective was shared in a townhall, would your employees find the statement aspirational and inspirational? Would it get eye rolls?
Questions to ask while setting up the Key Results:
How would we know we’re successful?
What would be really great this quarter?
Is this both our best and possible result?
What would we have more of if we were successful?
What would we have less of?
If we nail these KRs, will we feel like we’ve done our best possible against the objective? What would give us bragging rights?
Summarizing the lessons learnt from the session:
1) Facilitation Rigor- Increased vigilance on facilitation and ensuring discussion is focused on the task in hand. We had set up our objective and Key Results for the session and that helped us to keep things on track.
2) Pre-Preparation — This is crucial. As facilitators not only focus on designing the session, it is also working with leader and participants to understand the vision, the value proposition, and have a view of the potential data source of the key results.
3) Trust the mess and silence — We realized having allocating sufficient time for effective conversation is key to maximize the contributions of OKRs. The first OKR will take time. Give people time to think, figure out things and encourage active participation. Help them focus on the intent.
4) Conversation is crucial. Let it unfold and help them to move on when there is consensus or consent.
Finally, we would say the biggest learning is that alignment is harder than it sounds but worth the effort.
If anyone wants to understand in greater details, please do reach out to us. Would like to hear your experience in facilitating an OKR session.