Implementing OKRs Step 1: Begin with a Mission
Everyone can agree that a corporate mission statement is important. It describes a business’s reason for existence, the organization’s purpose and overall intention.
It can also inspire customers to choose your company over competitors. A global study revealed that consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase and champion purpose-driven corporations and U.S. consumers are over 80% more likely to have a positive image of, trust in, and be loyal to brands that lead with purpose.
A mission statement also encourages employees to feel engaged with their responsibilities and connected with the company culture. This drives the company’s objectives and leads to greater workplace productivity.
When I started using OKRs in 2018, I was very familiar with mission statements as part of my executive coaching practice; however, I had not tied the importance of mission statements to OKRs until I read Ben’s post, MOKRs: OKRs with a Mission. It was an aha moment for me. I immediately looked for an opportunity to use this approach. I incorporated this approach at my next workshop with an Employee Resource Group (ERG) within a global cloud computing organization. This ERG was an ideal group to test out this mission-based approach.
We kicked off the session with a group exercise to define their mission. The group aligned around their purpose and this shared context made it easier to create their OKRs. After the workshop, one of the ERG co-founders told me, “We came in as individuals and left as a team.” I was thrilled.
However, even after this initial success, I did not adopt the practice of starting with a mission exercise at all my workshops. While I would always suggest starting with a mission, I did not require it. Often, after suggesting that we define a mission as context for OKRs, the leader would quickly reply, “We’re good. We’ve got a mission that everyone agrees with.” So, I’d let it go. The OKR process would work; however, the team lacked that initial alignment that I knew could be so powerful.
Gradually, I began asking the leader if we could kick-off the OKRs workshops with a review of the mission statement even if it was “a mission that everyone agrees with,” just to confirm alignment. More times than not, I discovered that only the leader was aligned with the mission statement; we would end up with a revised mission statement based on input from the larger group before drafting OKRs.
My coaching process now includes pre-work for the team. All workshop participants receive an email with the existing Mission Statement, if already in place, and asked to answer each of the following four questions:
- Whom do we serve?
- Why do we exist?
- What service do we offer?
- What is the long-term impact our organization (or team) makes?
During the workshop, we review everyone’s answers to ensure alignment across the team.
Using Mission Statements has not only supported the effectiveness of OKRs creation process, but also led to an increase in team engagement in support of the OKRs implementation.