Radical Scale: Priorities not Tasks, turning strategy into action with OKRs

By Aaron Brindle

Radical Scale is a regular feature that explores key strategies for growing early stage technology companies.

Over the past several months the Radical Impact Team has hosted expert roundtables with our portfolio companies. We’re now sharing the key strategic and tactical insights from those sessions. Previous features include:  

This issue of Radical Scale features best practices for integrating objectives and key results (OKRs) into startups with experts Paul Niven and Zachary Ross. To learn more, please visit OKRsTraining.com.

Key strategic takeaway

Objectives and key results (OKRs) is a framework for setting challenging and ambitious goals with measurable results that can be applied to companies, team functions, and individuals. When done right, they increase agility, accountability, and focus. 

As companies build out strategic plans for 2021, OKRs can help teams align around priorities and ensure roadblocks to success are quickly identified and removed. OKRs will help your company translate strategy into action and make all employees feel connected to the organization’s vision.

Why should startups use OKRs? 

  • OKRs offer a single source of truth for aligning teams around the company’s strategic objectives, focusing employees on priorities not task lists
  • This framework goes beyond the sales numbers each quarter, offering a critical mechanism for evaluating your business 
  • By design, OKRs encourage cross-functional collaboration and teamwork
  • Company-wide OKRs help instill a culture of clear communication and transparency 
  • OKRs should accelerate growth and creativity, they are meant to stretch the organization’s thinking in terms of what is possible

Challenges OKRs can help your business navigate 

  • Strategy execution
  • Employee engagement 
  • Growth 
  • Disruption

Tips on drafting OKRs 

Objectives

  • A statement of a broad qualitative goal, designed to propel the organization forward in a desired direction
  • What do we want to do? 
  • Verb + What you’re going to do + In order to / so that (reflecting core business value)

Key results

  • Key results should be quantifiable, offering measurable benchmarks
  • A quantitative statement that measures the achievement of a given objective 
  • How will we know we’ve met our objective? 
  • Metric: Verb + What you’re going to track/count + From x to y 
  • Milestone: Verb + What you’re going to do + date

Tips for deploying OKRs

  • Confirm executive sponsorship and support 
  • Start small and be conservative, at least initially. A shorter cadence of OKR meetings reduces the lag between planning and action, increasing your organization’s agility 
  • Create regular OKR check-ins to ensure program is finding traction
  • Ensure you have an OKR champion or team of champions to help with the process 
  • Escalate when there are resource issues
  • Keep things simple

 

Experts

Paul Niven, founder of OKRsTraining.com,  is a consultant, noted speaker, and writer on the subjects of Strategy, OKRs, the Balanced Scorecard, and Performance Management. In 2001, Paul founded The Senalosa Group, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting clients in crafting and executing strategy using his proven step-by-step methodology. Since that time, Senalosa has developed Strategy and Performance Management systems for over five-hundred Fortune 1000, small and medium sized companies, public sector agencies, and nonprofit organizations around the globe.

Zachary Ross is a global OKRs coach at OKRsTraining.com , He is also a professional business speaker and an OKR Coach at Google Launchpad. Zachary specializes in helping executive leadership teams and people managers create a sense of urgency among staff and provides a business strategy process to align and connect employees to corporate goals, increase productivity through focus on goals and track regular progress towards goals.

 

About the Radical Ventures Impact Team

The Radical Ventures Impact Team is dedicated to helping its portfolio companies achieve global scale by providing deep technology expertise, go-to-market guidance, talent acquisition, strategic communications, and policy support.

If you want to learn more about Radical or its impact efforts, please reach out to Aaron Brindle at aaron@radical.vc

© 2021 Radical Ventures Investments Inc.