Challenges with Objectives and Key Results

After yesterday’s post on Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), one of the more common questions was about the challenges that come with implementing and using them. For most organizations, any serious change is tough, especially one that involves significant time on a regular basis and coordination of every person in the business (many companies are trying to lighten up on their processes like Accenture dropping their annual performance reviews and rankings).

Here are some challenges with objectives and key results:

  • If an organization is already averse to accountability, adding a system to track and manage the most important goals of every person in the company, and grade them, will be extra difficult
  • OKRs require significant amounts of coordination and one-on-ones between managers and direct reports at all levels of the company, creating more “work” for managers, especially ones that don’t like managing
  • Transparency of OKRs, and their corresponding grades, makes it difficult for companies to ignore their underperformers, and high performers will be more likely to leave if management doesn’t address low performers
  • Ongoing planning and strategy requires real leadership and effort, and some people are content to leave things just the way they are, but doing nothing is a conscious decision

The next time an entrepreneur complains about challenges with organizational alignment, accountability, and growth rate, ask them about OKRs and what they do to get everyone working together.

What else? What are some other challenges with objectives and key results?

3 thoughts on “Challenges with Objectives and Key Results

  1. David, I am curious if you have gone with this approach in your previous companies, and if you recommend your portfolio companies to implement the process. I am implementing something very similar right now at my company Hubstaff – but I was curious to hear if you’ve had success with this in the past and what you feel the impact is for a company that really sticks with it? Thanks, I really enjoy your posts – I read all of them to be honest.

    • Yes, I’m a fan of the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan combined with goals for every person in the company. Add in daily check-ins, weekly tacticals, monthly strategics, and quarterly offsites and you have a great rhythm.

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