Rebroadcast: Introducing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
Jeff Gothelf, Author, Consultant, and Speaker
About this podcast episode
We are excited to announce that the most listened-to podcast for 2022 was our interview with Jeff Gothelf on the topic of Objectives and Key Results (or OKRs). We are excited to share this rebroadcast to celebrate that milestone and introduce our new listeners to the topic!
In today’s podcast, Jeff Gothelf shares the importance of Objectives and Key Results (or OKRs). Jeff shares the proper way to define OKRs, sharing relatable stories that help you think through how to use them effectively.
Sharing relatable stories and solid examples, Jeff and @Bill Raymond cover the following topics:
✅ How to define OKRs based on strategic goals
✅ How leadership defines OKRs for their business
✅ Understand how teams align to OKRs with leadership
✅ How to measure our success in meeting our objectives
✅ Leadership advice to successfully implement OKRs
(transcripts are auto-generated, so please excuse the brevity)
Introducing the most listened-to podcast in 2022
Bill Raymond: Hi, this is Bill Raymond. Today is Tuesday, December 20th, 2022. I’m really excited to share this rebroadcast of our most listened to podcast. It’s called introducing. Objectives and key results or OKRs with Jeff Gothelf. I hope you enjoy this podcast. And next week I will give you a little bit of an update on where things are going for 2023. Alright let’s start the podcast!
BillRaymond: Hi, this is bill Raymond. I recently worked with a client that creates software for large enterprise customers. What their software is considered best in class. My clients struggled with customer satisfaction and adoption rates due to the steep learning curve to configuring their product.
BillRaymond: I was tasked with an objective. To build video training material directly into the application. The purpose of the training material was to explain how to fill out a field how certain buttons worked And the purpose of various screens
BillRaymond: Now i produce a lot of training materials so if you will please allow me to geek out for a moment
BillRaymond: To create a professional training video. You need to write a script record the exact steps on the screen. And perhaps even have a person on screen. Once that is complete. You must Polish the audio and the video, pass it through one or more review procedures. And potentially reshoot the content if it does not meet the expected standards
BillRaymond: Here’s a little context. Have you ever taken a professional online training course? You may have noticed that each learning objective is a short six to 10 minute video. Believe it or not that six minute video probably took anywhere from four to 12 hours to produce
BillRaymond: so now going back to my client, requesting training videos in their product. You can likely see my sense of concern. Imagine the software developers just adding a new field on a screen or creating a brand new screen or using new terminology. That means one or even dozens of videos would require a complete reshoot from beginning to end. Worse the software had different versions so then we would also have to link each one of these videos to various versions of the product
BillRaymond: I went back to my client and asked them if we could change my objective. Rather than create training videos for the product. I would instead investigate ways to improve customer adoption after all. That’s what they’re trying to get after. And the training videos was just an idea, really. After a bit of negotiation i was given the freedom to work on that customer adoption problem
BillRaymond: so, what are some of the things that I did? Well, I interviewed both satisfied and dissatisfied customers to. Learn how the things were successful and how others were not. I attended the training classes that my client provides to their customers. And i talked to my clients employees to get their perspective as well
BillRaymond: What I learned through that process was that the client loved to get deep into the technical weeds of how the product worked and all the cool things that it could do.
BillRaymond: As you can imagine the successful customers were the ones that treated. Did the effort. Effort to implement. The software as a digital transformation. Effort. They brought in cross-functional teams. That no one understand their business and map that to how the product works.
BillRaymond: The customers that we’re struggling with adoption. We’re trying to implement the technology. But we’re getting a little lost in translating that to how it works with the business users.
BillRaymond: That insight alone gave us what we needed to build our first hypothesis, which is that the customer needed a roadmap. They needed a guide of some sort that explained the process that they need to go through in order to implement the software.
BillRaymond: So over the course of a few weeks, we built a high level version of this roadmap and shared it internally. And with some interested customers,
BillRaymond: The feedback was absolutely amazing. And immediate people asked for a copy of the deck. People were asking us to help them with their projects. So we knew we were on to something.
BillRaymond: We continue to iterating. Building a roadmap though is an end to end solution for how you implement the product successfully. Considering change management. The business user’s perspective, the technical configuration person’s perspective and operations as well. We also created training tracks that people could take so they could get certified in the product and that further helped us with adoption and customer satisfaction
BillRaymond: that story brings me to today’s conversation, which is around OKR is or objectives and key results. If you recall, my client gave me an objective to create training videos. So customers would know how to use their product. They told me what they needed, rather than just challenging me to define how to improve product adoption and customer satisfaction. By using OKR is you determine what you want to accomplish. Allowing your teams, the freedom to define how to accomplish it.
BillRaymond: Today’s guest is Jeff gut health. A prolific author and speaker Jeff shares his experience on the topic of OKR is, and agility. I really hope you enjoy this lively conversation as much as I did.
BillRaymond: Let’s get started
BillRaymond: Hi and welcome to the podcast today. I’m joined by Jeff gut health author, consultant and speaker. Hi, Jeff. How are you?
JeffGothelf: I’m doing great bill. Thanks so much for having me.
BillRaymond: I’m looking forward to this conversation about objectives and key results before we get started. Could you introduce yourself a little bit?
JeffGothelf: Absolutely. I started my career as a broke musician. Actually, I spent a bunch of years touring with failed rock bands. And when I got tired of being I discovered the web became a web designer UX designer. And about 10 years into my career, I had. Come up with a solution for doing user experience design work in an agile environment.
JeffGothelf: And that led to the launch of my first book, which was called lean UX, which I co-wrote with Josh Seiden. And since lean UX came out, the focus of my career has shifted primarily more towards coaching and consulting and speaking training rather than actually doing design work, because people really wanted to know how to do.
JeffGothelf: Lean UX. And then since then I’ve written a few other books, like sense and respond lean versus agile versus design thinking. And then most recently a book called forever employable. And these days I work with mostly large and mid-sized organizations, helping them build great products and then helping their executive teams build the cultures that build great products.
JeffGothelf: And that really focuses on agility, customer centricity. And evidence-based decision-making.
BillRaymond: Thank you very much and book, by the way. I did read your lean UX book. I’m not a designer, but I did want to catch up on what you wrote. And it was a great.
JeffGothelf: Thank you. And the cool thing about that is that it’s been the, book’s been effort decade at this point. And Josh and I recently got to release the third edition. So it’s actually been very recently within the last 12 months, rewritten for the 2020s, if you will, and super proud of that book and the fact that it’s the longevity that it’s had in the impact.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: That is such an accomplishment. Congratulations. You’ve done a lot to progress this concept of agility in organizations. You also talk about the importance of okr is or objectives and key results let’s start with the basics can you share how you define okay R’s.
JeffGothelf: Absolutely. So it’s a way it’s an, is a way to set goals. I almost said it’s a new way to set goals. It’s not new. That would have been a lie. It actually this idea has been around for 40 years. It’s just that it’s having its moment in the sun Right. now for a variety of reasons. Some of which are some of the biggest.
JeffGothelf: Success stories, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, et cetera. Those companies used those from used OKR in the beginning. There was a very popular book recently published by John Dora called measure what matters, which really brought OTRs to the forefront. then lastly, I think the modern nature of Makes OKR is more viable today than maybe they were 40 years ago when they first came out. And what I mean by that, and we can get into the details of this a little bit later is we have incredible ability test And learn very quickly today, which allows us to. Redefine success. we’ll talk about why that is.
JeffGothelf: I think it a little bit, so let’s get into it. So what is OKR is objectives and key results and it’s literally two parts. Like it sounds there’s objectives in this key results. It’s a way that we define goals for teams in a human centric way. So we start with the objective. The objective is a qualitative statement.
JeffGothelf: It should be aspirational. It should be inspirational. It should be clearly related. It should be obvious. What value it brings to the organization towards achieving corporate strategy and it should be time timeboxed. And so when you think about objective statements, you’re going to hear a lot of super lives in in well-written objective statements.
JeffGothelf: We want to be the most efficient, the most successful we want to be. The easiest to use. We want to be the most helpful. We want to be the most supportive the most customer friendly system, whatever it is, we want to be the simplest onboarding program for vendor management systems, right?
JeffGothelf: Something along those lines. You’re looking for those types of statements that talk about the aspirational and inspirational goals. This is the kind of, this is the reason why the team gets up in the. What’s w why am I going to work every day? Because I’m building the most vendor friendly vendor management system.
JeffGothelf: There is right in the, in the world or in the U S or in financial services, that’s why I’m getting out of bed. The key results, answer the question. How do we know we’ve achieved the objective? So if the objective is qualitative, the key results are quantitative they’re metrics. And the idea is to choose the kind of metrics. Indicate that we have indeed achieved the objective. So your key results are our metrics. They should be ratios or rates in most cases. So a percentage increase something along those lines. Obviously you need a baseline for that. So you could do absolute numbers. Ultimately, we want to move to ratios rates.
JeffGothelf: They should be verifiable with evidence. So I shouldn’t be able to look at data analytics, usage, logs, customer research, market research, survey, data, whatever it is, I should be able to look at it at evidence that justifies the numbers that validates numbers. And most importantly, and I saved the best for last, because it’s the most important.
JeffGothelf: And if you would ask me where this goes wrong, this is where it brings. Almost every time your key results must be outcomes. They must be measures of human behavior. Now. This is so critical. If you were to ask me if there are any Hills, I’m willing to die on four. Okay. Ours, this is it right? Because to me if you don’t get this part right, if, if your key result is not a measure of human behavior, then typically speaking, you’re going to end up with an output in there instead of an out.
JeffGothelf: And as soon as you put an output, a feature or a task in as your key result, you are instantly back to fixed time, fixed scope, waterfall, ways of working, in which case, why bother with OKR? It doesn’t make any sense. So if the objective is become the most vendor friendly management, some vendor management system in financial services by the end of the year, right?
JeffGothelf: That’s our objective or key result could be something like reduce vendor onboarding time by 50%. That is a measure of human behavior, right? Increase the vendor onboarding completion rates on first attempt by 20%, like that. That’s a measure of human behavior. We’re looking for things that actually indicate that people are behaving differently and frankly, more successful.
JeffGothelf: And so fundamentally speaking, that’s what OKR is, are that’s what an objective is. And that’s what a key result is.
BillRaymond: so what’s an example of when you start putting in those things that aren’t outcomes what might that sound like?
JeffGothelf: So for example, let’s go with this vendor management idea that I just made up. And so we want to become the most vendor friendly vendor management system in financial services by the end of the year. And if you were to put an output in your curious out, you could say, we’re going to launch a seven step onboarding process by, you know, by the, by the end of the.
JeffGothelf: We’re going to build a mobile app this year, right? Those are features, right? Those are things. Those are actual things that you’re going to make for this target audience, because you expect that to be helpful to them, but you’ve removed the measurement of helpful from that, right?
JeffGothelf: The measure of success when you’ve got output. In your key results is deploying the thing, deploying the mobile app, deploying the seven step onboarding process. Did it make vendors more successful? Did it reduce vendor onboarding time? Did it increase completion rates on first attempt? You don’t know, and you don’t care because it’s not in there, Right, it’s not your measure of success. The measure of success is binary ship. The thing, celebrate it. Move onto the next.
BillRaymond: Okay. I think I get that. So basically what we’re doing is setting these okay. Ours to set a direction with some measures of success, without necessarily telling people how they’re going to do it. And the people that are closer to the ground and know how to accomplish that.
BillRaymond: find there their ways to meet those. Okay. Ours. Is that what you’re saying?
JeffGothelf: That’s exactly right. And this is where things get. Interesting.
JeffGothelf: Because leadership is very used to telling teams what to do. Go build this thing, deploy the mobile app, deploy seven step onboarding, teams are used to receiving that direction. That very prescriptive, requirement.
JeffGothelf: That’s the word I was looking for. Requirement from leadership. If done correctly, we take that conversation out of the goal setting work that the teams are doing. And it becomes a really interesting next step because the teams now have, Hey, I want to be, I want them, I’m building the most vendor friendly system and I’m trying to reduce onboarding time by 50%.
JeffGothelf: Cool. What should we build? No one told me. And it becomes really interesting, right? Because it teams are not used to not having that direction. And so then they, there, there is more work for them to do to then hypothesize how they might achieve the behavior change that they seek those key results.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: Um, it sounds like there are two pieces to that. First. I can see how an OTR might feel a little ambiguous, but I suppose I can work within the confines. I. I hesitate to use the word confined, but the confines of our team to figure out how to accomplish that objective. Then the second is understanding how that OKR came to be in the first place.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: Where does the OKR process startup? What level of the organization does the okr get defined
JeffGothelf: So let’s be super clear because there is a misconception here. Create okay. Ours without a defined corporate strategy. There needs to be some kind of strategic goal that is agreed upon and broadly distributed across the company that everybody is aware of. Th there has to that has to exist. Otherwise we’re just making stuff up. The OKR is just like, I feel like optimizing onboarding, I feel like optimizing task completion rates, I feel like whatever, right?
JeffGothelf: Like really like without that corporate strategy. Okay. Ours do not determine your corporate strategy. They emerge from your corporate strategy. And they are the measures of whether or not you’re actually achieving the corporate strategy. So let’s be super clear leadership team, and this is their job, have to come up with a corporate strategy, agree to it, and align the organization around and make it super clear what the goal is. Then. That same leadership team to come up with objectives and key results for that corporate strategy. And generally speaking from a leadership level, those are going to be fairly big objectives and key results.
JeffGothelf: Become the dominant vendor onboarding system in north America. Something like that. And then your key results become things like market share revenue, that type of thing for kind of big numbers. Right. That’s awesome. The next step then is for that to be communicated down to the teams and then the teams then need to communicate up to leadership about what OKR is.
JeffGothelf: They’ve come up with that they believe helps support. The corporate goals, So the OKR setting process is both a top down and a bottom up exercise. And the reason for that is because you want to give teams the ability to self-determine their goals. are far more motivated to work on goals that they came up with, then ones that you gave them.
JeffGothelf: And so by defining a corporate strategy by defining. Objectives and key results for that corporate strategy. The leadership team has now created a goal for the entire organization and they have defined constraints, right? He used the word confines, which is not incorrect. I simply, I prefer the word constraints, but it’s the same thing.
JeffGothelf: We’ve created these guardrails for the team. And then you’re saying, okay, great. Now you marketing team, right? You guys do marketing. So your OKR are going to be around, the operational aspects of the system. But tell us from a marketing perspective, what your objectives are and how your key results can help support the corporate.
JeffGothelf: You business unit, right? You dev ops team, you, whatever, right? How are you supporting the corporate goals? And so then those teams communicate those up and we’re doing these at the team level.
JeffGothelf: right? Not at the individual level, but at the team level, they communicate them up and then leadership approves them and they say, yes, that makes sense, strategically.
JeffGothelf: your key result is ambitious enough. So we’re going to approve that goal, go forth and figure out to do that. so that’s the process that works best. And it’s it. the one that empowers the team’s most effective.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: So the OKR as a team defines might look different than a corporate OKR, but they are still attempting to meet the same common objective.
JeffGothelf: Let’s use an example. Let’s
JeffGothelf: right. So we’re carrying this context of vendor onboarding, vendor management onboarding, so you’ve got sort of a business unit or a product level, or even a corporate level goal to become the most vendor friendly vendor management system in financial services.
JeffGothelf: By the end of the year. Okay, great. And the key results we’re looking for are things like satisfaction, renewal rates, onboarding new vendors, number of vendors onboard and that type of thing. Okay, great. Now let’s imagine that you and I, we work the scope of our work is the authentication portion the vendor management system. Right? That’s what we work on. We don’t work on the whole thing. of the customer journey that we focus on is authentic. So we’re going to write an objective. That’s says something like make it as easy as possible for vendors to authenticate into the system. Something like that, Something like that. Okay. Great. And our key results are going to be things like. Uh, Increased number of successful authentication rates on first authentication attempts on first try by a hundred percent reduce password retrieval requests by 90% And reduce customer service support calls about authentication by 75%, something like that.
JeffGothelf: All three of those are measures of human behavior. All three of those are key results that we, as the authentication team can influence. if you remember our corporate goal, our business unit goal, which has become the most vendor friendly system, if you can authenticate really smoothly into the system zero friction that’s pretty darn friendly, right?
JeffGothelf: So we’re supporting the goal in that sense as well. So that’s the kind of work that I would expect to see at the team level, setting a goal that is within their sphere of influence. And that functions as a leading indicator of the corporate goal.
BillRaymond: so then from that comes a number of problems to solve, to address those. And then you start putting those onto your roadmap to start building that capability.
JeffGothelf: yeah. And it becomes really interesting, because what we’ve, what we’re explicitly. And it becomes very obvious for teams who are doing OTRs for the first time Is that we are not sure we’re not a hundred percent certain what.
JeffGothelf: combination of code copy and design business model value proposition, pricing model, whatever it is, right.
JeffGothelf: Is going to achieve the behavior change that we’re looking at. so we are going to come up with ideas. These ideas in reality are our best guesses. They’re educated guesses. They’re based on our experience and our expertise in our domain knowledge and historical data and all that kind of stuff.
JeffGothelf: nevertheless, these are guesses now. A nicer word for guests is hypothesis. So if you feel uncomfortable saying, I am guessing . That we’re going to do this. You can say, I have a hypothesis that we should do this. Because remember, software development is complex. Human behavior is complex and unpredictable.
JeffGothelf: And just because we built something and we think it’s awesome, does not mean that the people who consume that thing think it’s awesome and love it. And we’ll use it in a way that we anticipate, so we have to make a roadmap of hypothesis. Right how our best guesses and we start to work towards those hypotheses.
JeffGothelf: Now, remember the measure of success for us is not, did we successfully deploy the idea in the hypothesis? Our measure of success? Our new goal is did we change customer behavior? Did we reduce password reset requests by 90%? If we didn’t. Then whatever we came up with didn’t work, no matter how much we love it, no matter how great we thought it would be, no matter how brilliant the idea was, if it did not reduce password reset requests by 90%, which is our success criteria, then we have to pivot or kill that idea and move on to something else.
JeffGothelf: And that is a difficult concept for a lot of teams to grasp.
BillRaymond: I can absolutely see that because, usually, if someone says, Hey, how are we doing on this objective? What they really mean is how are you doing right now, writing that mobile app that we really want, even though we didn’t say it
BillRaymond: get out of that kind of conversation has to be a fairly difficult one.
BillRaymond: even using your example of. Improving the authentication and making sure the password resets don’t happen as much. I have to imagine that allows space for the team to try different experiments and see what’s working. And what’s not rather than just having some thing that they have to build to because it came from somewhere else.
JeffGothelf: Let me give you another example from my experience, it’s a story directly from my expenses, and this is an old story. In fact, you’ll find the story in lean UX. And and it’s been an all three versions. So it’s an old story, but it illustrates this perfectly. Okay. I used to work at a company in New York city called the ladders, the ladder.
JeffGothelf: I think even to this day, it’s been a while since I’ve checked their site, they’ve morphed a little bit, but when I worked there, it was a job board for people who made a hundred thousand dollars or more. And the employers looking to hire them, basically a matchmaking service, like a dating site, but for executive jobs, we put together a team and this w and one of the things that we’re trying to create is these serendipitous connections between employers and job seekers the executive level. We recognize the problem in our system. The problem was that the job seeker response rate, which is the PR the number of times that a job seeker, the percentage that a job seeker responds to an employer communication in our system was 14%, which is a abysmal, right?
JeffGothelf: You’ve got two parties trying to find each other, both paying to be in the system. And when one party reaches out to the other. 14% of the time they get a response,
JeffGothelf: Which means 86% of the time they’re getting nothing back. That’s bad. That’s a bad user experience. That’s a bad value proposition and we’re going to lose customers.
JeffGothelf: We’re going to churn and we’re going to have to really figure that out. So we put together a team and we said, your job is to increase job-seeker response rate from 14% to 75. Okay. Why 75%, because it’s way more than 14, really. And a hundred percent is impossible,
BillRaymond: also I’m thinking that’s what the customers expect.
JeffGothelf: well. Exactly. Three out of four times, I want to hear something. And that was the mission. Like the objective was create the most successful communication system between job seekers and employers. And we had just one job seeker response rate from 14% to 75%. That’s where it needs to go.
JeffGothelf: And that’s it. So the team began hypothesizing, how might we do this? One idea that we came up with was literally two on a monthly basis or a weekly basis to pull the data from the system for all the job seekers who got notes from employers and didn’t respond and to have our call center calls. That was a hypothesis, to your point earlier. And that, would have worked right? Except it wasn’t scalable.
JeffGothelf: It was a solution. It just wasn’t cost efficient. It was something that we could do. We could get that data on a regular basis, but that the task, the call center was making those calls on a regular basis would have murdered their own.
JeffGothelf: results for maintaining good customer service support for our customers. And you can hypothesize all of these ideas, you can experiment your way to figure out which ones might work then decide which of those successful experiments are actually viable in the longterm and then deploy them at scale to the rest of the rest of the user base.
BillRaymond: So you had an opportunity to really think about how you going to do that try out different ideas until you finally landed on the ones that you felt were going to be the most successful.
JeffGothelf: Correct, because remember we were not on the hook for notifications or message reminders or calls from the customer service center, were on the hook for job seeker response rate. Our job was simply to get this population to talk to this population more consistently, right?
JeffGothelf: That’s what we were on the hook for. not any particular feature set.
BillRaymond: Yeah that’s a great example. I really appreciate that. That kind of brings it all home for what we’re talking about now, I am curious, and you and I had a little side conversation on this prior to this podcast and our first conversation, one of the questions I asked was can you use OKR is for performance reviews, and I think you have some thoughts on that.
JeffGothelf: Yes. So the short answer is no, you should. I mean you can, but the here’s the risk. Okay. The risk with this is as soon as you tie, okay. RS to performance, met performance review Hey Jeff and team, you guys were on the hook for 75% job seeker response rate. You had 52%. It’s not quite 75. It’s really sort of, halfway there.
JeffGothelf: So you’re only getting half your bonus. Right that idea. Why is it a bad idea? As soon as you tie OKR is to performance metrics, promotions, anything like that people are going to set OKR is they know they can hit, right? That the term that is often used for that.
JeffGothelf: is sandbagging, there’s an art to it where you under promise and over deliver.
JeffGothelf: In this case, we’re just going to under promise and hit them. Because if my, if my bonus or my promotion or my review score is contingent upon me hitting a specific metric, I’m going to make sure I set a metric for myself. I know I can hit. And what happens there is creativity. Doesn’t get pushed.
JeffGothelf: Innovation gets stifled. People take the safe road. They take a path that guarantees. Success. And at that point again you’re losing one of the major benefits of shifting to OKR, which is that creativity, which is that innovation is that hypothesizing that experimentation in that learning people simply are not going to take any risks. If they know that their bonus hangs in the balance.
BillRaymond: that makes sense. much rather over deliver and then seem a bigger bonus.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: I’m actually learning a lot just through this conversation because okay. Ours are fairly new to me. I’m still reading up on them and learning about them.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: So i’m still taking in how an okr should remain aspirational keeping it rates and ratios not tacking on those extra tasks to the end
JeffGothelf: let’s talk about that for a second, because look there’s not, let’s be honest here. Okay. There is no way. Any team is getting away with like, okay team. I prove your OKR, what are you going to work on? There’s no way anything’s getting away with I don’t know. That’s not reality, as much as we, as much as that’s the truth, let’s be honest. They don’t really know. We’re no, one’s getting away with that. So what are we going to do about that? What are we going to do is we are going to present back to the leadership team, our hypothesis.
JeffGothelf: Here’s what we believe we’re going to work on in the next quarter. Right here are the 3, 4, 5, 10 initiatives that we believe are gonna help us hit our key results. the way we’ve prioritized them. Here’s why we’ve prioritized them this way. And we start working through the backlog, right?
JeffGothelf: What gives the backlog of hypothesis, testing persevering, pivoting, killing some of these hypotheses. It’s obviously you want to couch that as a hypothesis, not as a committed list of features, and then it’s super important. If you truly want to make this successful, the team level, it’s super important that you practice radical transparency with your stakeholders, as well as with your colleagues.
JeffGothelf: So managing out and up as well. that as a team, Hey, we went down this particular path for hypothesis one. And we ran a few experiments. We deployed a prototype. We even tried to AB test a couple of things over the first couple of sprints. It doesn’t seem like it’s gonna work for us. So we’re going to communicate out immediately.
JeffGothelf: Okay. Hey stakeholders. Guess what? Hypothesis one here. Our experiments here are our results. Based on this evidence, we are making the decision to pivot off of this hypothesis to hypothesis. And we’re going to reserve to maybe come back to this in the future, but right now it’s not working. You need to take an extra level of proactiveness in your communications because your stakeholders are going to get nervous.
JeffGothelf: If you don’t talk to them, they’re going to expect you to deliver all 10 things that you committed to, even though you call them hypotheses. But if you’re consistently communicating back out to the stakeholders, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what we’re learning. Here’s what we’re changing based on that learning, at the very least there’s there is that clear line of communication and they have an opportunity to raise their hand and say, okay let’s talk about that because I’m not sure you’re interpreting that data correctly, or that’s really strategically important. How might we figure out a way to do that?
JeffGothelf: Maybe that’s not the way, but something else. So there’s a, there’s an extra level of effort here that you have to put in to make this work.
BillRaymond: Yeah, that’s good insight. Thank you. And then I am curious frequently might you change the OKR is because I have to imagine, after you hit the. 50% onboarding that, reducing the number of password resets by 90%. There’s there we move on and we work on the next
BillRaymond: is how frequently do we update or create new
BillRaymond: okay. Ours.
JeffGothelf: generically speaking, we want to check in. Now look, I say quarter because most organizations plan in a year, most organizations make quarterly plans. And generally speaking quarters are long enough cycles to figure out whether we’re on the right track or not with our key results. So for example, come back to our example of reducing password reset requests by 90%.
JeffGothelf: Okay. The team sets out in Q1 to try to figure out how to do that. At the end of Q1, we do a check. With the team and they say, great. Hey, how are you trending to your key results? We tried a couple of different things. One worked one didn’t we’ve increased we’ve decreased password reset request by about 27%.
JeffGothelf: And in the next quarter, these are our plans. Okay. In debate, it got a clear sense we’re making progress. Terrific. Another scenario might be that same team shows up and says, Hey, we hit 90%. What do you want to do next? Because that’s our definition of done now, right? Our definition of done is not deployed.
JeffGothelf: The feature as designed. Our definition of done is change customer behavior. Hey, we hit 90%. What do you want to do for the next three quarters? Let’s talk about that. A third scenario could be that same team comes in and say, Realistically speaking, everything that we’re doing is moving the needle, but like a percent or two or three, we’re never ever going to hit 90% reduction.
JeffGothelf: I think the best we could do is maybe 15% and we’re already at 12 this quarter, right? What do you want to do? And so what we’re doing there is we are empowering our stakeholders at these quarterly check-ins to make just in time. Evidence-based decisions about how to best deploy that team and how to best help that team prioritize their work. And so those quarterly check-ins are always future-looking. There shouldn’t be any surprises specifically if we practice that radical transparency and that proactive communication that we talked about a second ago, that everybody knows what’s happening, you’re not showing up at that quarterly checkup.
JeffGothelf: With stakeholders expecting a 90% decrease in password resets and saying, I got 3%. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. So we’re not those aren’t backwards looking meetings. They’re forward looking needs. We’ve got all this evidence. What do you think we should do for the next quarter?
JeffGothelf: Now I want to answer the question that inevitably comes up when we talk about cycle times and check-ins, and that type of things we talk about years, we talk about quarters. It’s how most organizations work and typically that’s enough time, but it’s not true for every industry. Pharmaceuticals government digital health aerospace, right cycle times are longer in, in other industries. Industrial manufacturing, things like that. Okay. Totally get that. So your check-in on your OKR is, should be. A shorter timeframe than you’re using today. Right. Like, Whatever it is, cut it in half.
JeffGothelf: So if if your planning cycle is a two year cycle, I would expect you to be checking in every six months on your okay. Ours. Try that. And again, like everything agile. We don’t have to live with this stuff forever. If we do a six month check-in and realistically speaking, we cannot collect enough data because of the product that we make, the number of the type of customers that we have, whatever it is to make a solid decision about our own carriers.
JeffGothelf: Okay. We lived with that for one cycle. We’re going to extend our check-in cycle to 12 months or nine months, whatever it is. So you find that balance through experimentation with the process itself, whatever you’re doing now, Just cut it in half and then start there.
BillRaymond: That’s excellent advice. I like that. Start trying to live in that world and then see how it works and your culture, the business you’re in, it could all be different than you could have a different way of approaching it. But you’re keeping some of those basic concepts that you outlined in place where you’re defining.
BillRaymond: Okay. I is trying to set some object some level of objective where there’s some sort of a number associated with it then let the teams figure out what their hypothesis is. And then you’re coming back and you’re checking in and the team is proactively also informing. Leadership as to where they are against that right now.
BillRaymond: And if there are concerns and you’re not meeting them, it’s not like this is things can change. It’s okay. And that’s, I think all about what we’re talking about. When we talk about agility, I’ve really loved this conversation today thank you for your time, Jeff.
JeffGothelf: It’s been my pleasure bill. This is really fun. Thanks for having me.
BillRaymond: Yeah. Yeah. And before we go, is it okay if anyone reaches out.
JeffGothelf: I would look forward to it.
BillRaymond: How might people want.
JeffGothelf: Super easy. Jeff gothelf.com is a great way to find me, to reach me, to sign up for my newsletter or read the blog posts or just reach out and then connect with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to see you there as well.
audioBillRaymond21395309060: Wonderful. We’ll provide the link to your books, your website, and your LinkedIn profile on the agile and action.com website. Just look up this podcast with Jeff gut health on. Okay, ours. Ours. Of course if you’re listening to this in a podcast app right now just go ahead and scroll down to the show notes the description and you will see the links there as well Thank you very much for your time today jeff
JeffGothelf: My pleasure bill.