Tuck Consulting Group (TCG) has embraced the creation and use of company Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to clearly set direction and drive company growth. In the Harvard Business Review article “Use OKRs to Set Goals for Teams, Not Individuals” by Jeff Gothelf, its proven that OKRs are best used when focused on a group goal with less emphasis on individual contributions.
OKRs are defined by Gothelf as “a team-based goal setting methodology. A shared objective and quantifiable metrics can help a team to coordinate their activities, align with stakeholders, and act with more than just their own immediate goals in mind.” It’s not to say individual contributions aren’t valued. They should just be rolled up into a common goal of the organization.
Some examples of company level objectives could be “become thought leaders in project management for SMBs” or “increase following for our pro bono project management services.” Individual key results that might tie up to those objectives could be ”pass PMP exam this quarter” or ”seek and build relationships with 5 pro bono organizations in my area before our next all-hands meeting”. It is important to keep focus on the group goal, then break this down into what you can contribute to achieve this target.
As stated, “the strength of OKRs explicitly lies in de-emphasizing specific tasks, and instead emphasizing the value that those tasks deliver.” Focusing on big picture values first, then breaking down the goal into measurable key results can help accomplish the objective. “This approach keeps planning and progress-tracking focused on the impact the work is having, rather than micromanaging the specific work that teams are doing on a daily basis.”
We instituted the OKR tracking system in Tuck Consulting Group at the first of this year. We utilize Koan as our tool of choice to have weekly reflections on our OKR progress. “For key results to be effective, they need to measure a change in the behavior of the target audience of your work. This is what makes them an objective measure of success, and not simply a documentation that energy has been spent.” This checkpoint is a staple in our team’s weekly standups and keeps us all accountable for efforts made to company goals.
Emphasizing larger group objectives, breaking down key results to achieve this objective, and making the team grow and push the needle together is much more effective than siloed accountability. Sharing the common vision and being able to contribute to it is a much more fulfilling path to success. So much so, our Principal Alex Tuck has a similar setup at his home for family goals in mind! Group vision + individual contributions to the common goal = overwhelmingly more shared success.