Using OKRs Even When Your Boss Doesn’t.
Published on 10.05.2018
You’ve read about Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and how industry leaders like Susan Wojcicki, Sundar Pichai, and even Bono have used them to align, connect, and track company success… but what about when you’re not the top boss?
What if your senior leadership doesn’t use them? Can you still use OKRs for getting things done?
No matter what your job title is, or what kind of work you do—media, government, nonprofit, healthcare, etc.—you don’t need to ask for permission to use OKRs for yourself or your team.
Leadership can happen from any place in your organization. It all starts with the question, “What’s my rallying cry?”
Back in October 2013, when HealthCare.gov was in crisis, former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Ryan Panchadsaram, and his newly assembled team quickly set their goal: make sure as many people as possible could enroll in health insurance.
Three weeks after a disastrous rollout, it was still up for debate whether it was best to save or scrap the website. The small team knew that focusing on the right objectives was their best chance to turn things around.
Together, they came up with a simple goal: to fix Healthcare.gov for the vast majority of users.
They never asked for permission to use OKRs. And they never used the words “OKRs” with colleagues, contractors, or other government employees. But they did set clear benchmarks for success:
At first the data they needed to measure progress wasn’t easily accessible. But the tools they built gave them critical insights about how true progress was going.
“Every decision and every bug fixed had to let more people get health care,” said Ryan. “It was an awesome way to focus on what mattered most.”
And while nobody else may have called them OKRs, they used them to frame discussions and prioritize the work.
WHAT are you measuring? WHY does it matter?
What’s your story? Reach out! Email us or comment on our Facebook page.
Lisa Shufro (@lshufro) is WhatMatter.com's Chief Storyteller, an international conference curator, and former Managing Editor of TEDMED.
Minerva Schools is redefining what a university can be by using OKRs to illuminate the future of higher education.
Allbirds cofounder Joey Zwillinger talks about measuring sustainability and their carbon footprint by using OKRs.
Learn How Possible and Nyaya Health are growing a global culture of collaboration with OKRs.
Possible has improved healthcare in Nepal by using BHAGs to maximize their OKRs.
Learn how WINS meetings give everyone at Apartment Therapy a sense of collective accomplishment within an OKR cycle.
Follow along as the digital publication Apartment Therapy uses OKRs to get to the next level.
Thaddeus Ferber of the Forum for Youth Investment nonprofit shares how OKRs encouraged bold moves during a time of budget cuts.
Laszlo Bock explains the evidence behind why bonuses should be kept separate from individual goals.
Code for America's Jennifer Pahlka and Lou Moore explain how the nonprofit uses OKRs to defeat local government bureaucracy.
How transparency makes an organization’s objectives clear and how it can be used in nonprofits, schools, and government.
Using OKRs to power growth, engagement, and diversity
And Why You Should Too.
John shares his take on what makes the difference between success and failure. Telling stories of ambitious leaders and teams, John's keen observations and insights bring light to an oft overlooked aspect of dreaming big.
The founder and CEO of 23andMe shares the ups, downs, and in betweens of goal setting.
A Silicon Valley luminary finds a new approach to defining success.
A closer look at the man who invented OKRs.
Meet the California grade schoolers charting their own path.