Field Book Preview: OKRs Cycle Coaching
The prior post in our series previewing The OKRs Field Book introduced OKRs training workshops and included a sample agenda for the top-level workshop. If you go into an OKRs workshop with the ten universal deployment parameters defined and spend most of the time applying OKRs theory to draft your client’s real OKRs, this training workshop is very likely to be a major success. However, your work is just beginning. Here is a story that provides the context for getting started with OKRs cycle coaching.
My father, Mario Lamorte, was a master elementary school teacher. In his freewriting exercise, he provided simple instructions: write down whatever is on your mind while keeping your pencil moving for ten minutes. One gloomy student approached him with a sad look and complained, “I can’t think of anything to write — it’s frustrating to see the other kids writing so fast.” My father replied, “Perfect! Write down exactly what you just told me. You’re off to a great start.” The student returned to her desk and started writing. While Mario’s freewriting workshop generated enthusiasm, the real work was just beginning.
My father took the journals home to read over the weekend and inserted personal notes, questions, and encouraging comments. He created an ongoing dialog and collaborative relationship with each student. His approach to teaching writing informs my approach to OKRs coaching.
OKRs training workshops generate enthusiasm. If you are an OKRs trainer, you might simply deliver training and move on to your next project. But you are not a trainer. You are a coach.
Like my father with his students, you know the workshop is just the beginning of an ongoing collaboration. You provide coaching throughout the OKRs cycle to ensure your client translates theory into practice. While your client may not have a journal, they often provide written OKRs for your feedback. Your encouraging comments and questions enable the ongoing collaboration that is essential to OKRs coaching. Chapter 5 of The OKRs Field Book breaks down how to coach an organization through the steps of an OKRs cycle. By now, you’ve already defined deployment parameters in Phase 1 and completed a training workshop, Phase 2. As shown below, you are now ready for Phase 3, OKRs Cycle Coaching.
The three phases of an OKRs coaching engagement
The OKRs Field Book provides a detailed analysis of each of the three steps of the cycle. You will find solutions for avoiding common pitfalls, excerpts from actual cycle coaching sessions, and a case study that follows one of our client’s OKRs through each step of the cycle. This post previews some of the content from chapter 5 of the field book focused on avoiding the common pitfalls of Step 1 of Phase 3, “Set & Align.”
OKRs Cycle Step 1 Common Pitfalls
- Defining too many OKRs
- Writing key results as a list of tasks, measuring output not outcomes
- Failing to define why the objective is important now
- Creating OKRs in silos, ignoring dependencies
OKRs Cycle Step 1 Solutions
- Focus on one to three objectives per team
- Distinguish between key results, health metrics, and tasks
- Align on why objectives are important prior to drafting key results
- Involve key stakeholders outside your team when drafting OKRs
OKRs Cycle Step 1 Analysis
Most organizations that approach us have already tried to roll out OKRs on their own. They often want to use OKRs to focus but define way too many OKRs. We were recently approached by a team that defined eleven objectives! They presented us with a massive list of key results that looked more like tasks than measurable outcomes. Some organizations seek to use OKRs to increase cross-functional alignment and reduce silo effects. Ironically, these same organizations often define teams based on their org chart and ask each team to draft OKRs in silos.
When approached by a prospective client that has encountered these pitfalls, let them know they are not alone. Provide validation. Remember, it takes time to get OKRs right. To help your client avoid these pitfalls and define effective OKRs, consider using the seven steps for creating team-level OKRs as a framework for success. Or better yet, get the field book for more on OKRs cycle coaching. In the field book, you will find:
- Detailed analyses of each step
- Solutions for avoiding common pitfalls
- Excerpts from actual cycle coaching sessions
- Case study that follows an actual OKR through each step of the cycle
For a complete look at the three steps in OKRs Cycle Coaching, get your copy of The OKRs Field Book!