Dear Andy: OKRs for Large Corporations
How do OKRs scale to an 80,000 employee company? Asking for a friend. ;)
Hi Antonin! Thanks for your great question! The key to rolling out OKRs in a large-scale organization is to start small and to start at the top. Instead of a company of 80,000 people, imagine yourselves as a company of eight people, perhaps just the highest level of management. Start with one blank page (we recommend a Google Doc or something everyone in the company can access), and identify the changes you hope to see in the next 90 days. These are your company-wide OKRs. Let these be your company’s top priorities for a cycle—don’t feel you need to rush things. When the next cycle hits, assess where you’re at, and if/when you feel you’ve got the hang of things, have your department heads write their OKRs, taking care to make sure they’re aligned with your company-wide OKRs. Bear in mind, many companies choose to cascade the top-level KRs into departmental Objectives, but that is entirely up to you. Keep this process going until you’ve reached the individual.
Transparency and education are key. It’s important to make sure everyone in the company knows exactly what OKRs are and why you’ve chosen to implement them. We’ve found that leading by example is the best way to get buy-in on this new process. This allows you to articulate your goals, expectations, and methods to the company, and you’ll be amazed at how willing and eager your teams will be to follow public policy and emulate.
This process most likely will not happen flawlessly and it certainly will not happen overnight—be patient with yourselves! Only layer in new levels of OKRs when it feels natural and right. It’s easy to look at massive companies like Google who use OKRs so lithely and efficiently and ask yourself “how on earth did they do it?” Well, remember, John Doerr introduced OKRs to Google when just 20 people were working there. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is an efficient large-scale structure of OKRs.
Well, Antonin, I hope this has been helpful for you. If you’d like some real life examples of how large companies have implemented OKRs, might I suggest a few of our fantastic stories? OKRs Around the World, OKRs for Building a Culture of Innovation, and Sparking an Organizational Renaissance With OKRs all have a lot of great information on this topic. Thanks again for writing in and best of luck to you, your team, and your “friend” ;)
-Billy from the What Matters team
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