Resonates With Me | By Mattias Ahlström

Achieving Harmony in Goals - Evading Common OKR Pitfalls

The world of product management and organizational alignment has found its melody in Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). They're designed to be our guiding score, ensuring every department and individual plays in tune with the company’s vision. Yet, as with any musical composition, there can be missteps or discordant notes. The key is recognizing these and adjusting for a harmony.

Using OKRs should be reminiscent of orchestrating a symphony. Each element, whether it’s an instrument or a goal, plays a part in creating a unified, captivating performance.

Too Many OKRs

One, if not the most, important part of OKRs is to focus on what truly matters. If every department or team has its own objective, you are diluting the overarching company vision.

Imagine an orchestra where each section plays its distinct solo simultaneously. An overflow of objectives risks discord instead of harmony.

Way Too Many OKRs

Going deeper, if each member charts their own course, the essence of collaboration and alignment is lost. OKRs should unify, not segregate and create isolated islands of individual goals.

It's comparable to each musician playing their own tune. The outcome? A confusing mishmash of sounds.

You Have Zero Cross Company OKRs

It's a misstep to think only in departmental silos. Cross-functional OKRs ensure that teams collaborate and break down walls. They push for a unity that's essential for the larger vision and ensure that the organization's various parts move cohesively.

If the woodwind section ignored the strings, the result would be disjointed. Collaboration across all teams is essential for a full, rich sound.

No Alignment During Planning

If all musicians only knew the finale, like reaching a C#, and then individually navigating there. Then set off to work towards that end note in whatever tempo and rhythm pattern they felt like. The performance would be erratic. Similarly, alignment discussions during the planning phase are crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Too Late Alignment

What if alignment occurred mid-performance? Each section would be on its own journey, but to reach that climactic crescendo, they'd need to synchronize both in tempo and their position within the piece. Alignment should be foundational, not an afterthought.

The OKRs are Cascading

Envision a symphony dwindling from a full ensemble to solo drums. The music loses its essence. Similarly, in OKRs, the cascading model, where objectives trickle down layer by layer, risks distorting the primary goal. Instead, OKRs should be co-crafted, engaging every tier from the beginning.

Time to fine-tune your OKRs

In essence, the value of OKRs, much like a symphony, lies in alignment, cooperation, and clarity. They are the guiding script for an organizational magnum opus. If your organizational tune feels amiss, perhaps it's time to fine-tune your OKRs.