Purpose & Engagement in digital times [Approaches & Tool]

Purpose & Engagement in digital times [Approaches & Tool]

Many of today’s leaders are asking themselves the question of meaning: Why do I do what I am doing? What do I contribute and what is the point of all of this? In a time where the speed of change is enormous and nothing seems to be permanent, it is only natural to deal with such issues. Companies can help their leaders and leaders can empower their employees to find meaning and simultaneously encourage their engagement for the job.

Anita Berger about Purpose and Engagement in digital times
About the author

Anita Berger is MDI Managing Partner and accompanies organizations internationally and from all sectors as a consultant in organizational development, as a management trainer and coach, for many years already. She is an expert when it comes to engagement and motivation 3.0. As a certified trainer, she offers the Original Drive Workshop after Daniel H. Pink, which is also a module of the Agile Leadership certification course.

Being an agile leader – be mobile & motivate

 

For me, being an agile leader means to be flexible and to stay mobile. The conditions in companies, teams, and projects are changing so fast today that it is often not possible to act proactively – you have to react. As fast as possible. Agile leadership is about being mobile and staying mobile. Wherever possible, you should, of course, be able to plan and act proactively. But in my opinion, nowadays, it is more important to react quickly, constructively and productively. Another important skill is being able to adapt to different circumstances as a leader.

A successful leader also creates a set-up that allows employees to think in terms of ideas and solutions rather than problems. Employees must be able to think outside the box and constantly explore options and opportunities. Employees need a high degree of self-commitment and personal responsibility. The reason for this is that our fast-paced time is exhausting, certainly not always “easy-cheesy” and relaxing. In order to do so, a leader needs employees who understand the reason behind actions and projects. More importantly, they need to believe in it and go an extra mile to achieve the maximum performance from their own accord.

 

It’s all about purpose

 

In this context, the purpose plays a crucial role. Ideally, it is like this: There is a clearly formulated and strong corporate purpose the employees know about. They can reflect on this corporate purpose and establish an intersection between what is important to them and the purpose of the organization. With this interaction, they know how to contribute to the “bigger picture”.

Of course, there will be cases in which the company’s purpose is not tangible enough to define one’s own contribution as an employee. If this is the case, it takes a break on the organizational unit, which is relevant for each team member, followed by the comparison: How does that fit together? What is important to the person?

I think that there is still potential in many companies when it comes to defining the purpose. Especially regarding the correlation between one’s personal purpose and the purpose of the organization.

Finding Purpose

Many leaders are asking the same question: Why do I do what I am doing? How can I contribute?

 

If you would like to start working on this topic, start with questions like What does purpose actually mean for our company? How tangible is it and is there place and time for a real confrontation? Is it something that stands on a marketing folder or do I associate more with it as a leader, as a CEO or as a board member?

Furthermore, it is important to look for the dispute according to rounds of questions and discussions. It is about a conscious process, in which employees deal with their own purpose and at the same time as the one of the company. As well as actively looking for points of friction and similarities. It can happen that somebody says: My purpose is not your business, that’s private. Of course, this must be respected and, as a leader, you must at least make sure that the respective team members recognize their own contribution to the corporate mission through their work tasks. Thereby they have to find meaning in what they do and, as a result, gain commitment.

 

The concept of engagement – Drive by Daniel H. Pink

 

A concept, I really like to use, is the Drive concept from the bestselling author Daniel H. Pink. I use it to reflect with leaders and team members and to work on motivation and purpose. From my point of view, it gives you clarity in a complex of topics that is sometimes elusive and difficult to grasp. Furthermore, it provides valuable insights by determining the location: where do I stand? How do I fit for the business purpose? What else would it take for the fit to be better?

For example, I worked with a group of senior executives and spent a whole afternoon answering questions like: ”What is my own purpose? How does this coincide with the corporate trajectory?” One participant has stated that she clearly separates her own purpose from that of the company, and at the same time realizes that it requires quite a bit of effort. As a result, she asked herself where there could be a common intersection, and how much energy she can use to bridge this gap.

Exactly those kinds of reflections are the ones, I find extremely valuable for both sides, the participants, and company. It offers a real value, to pause for a moment and go into depth to gain clarity on the one hand, but more importantly to gain motivation and commitment for the daily challenges.

More about the DRIVE concept

 

In addition to the purpose, the Drive concept is also about self-determination (Autonomy) and perfecting (Mastery) as a lever for engagement. Find out more about the concept in this video and in Daniel H. Pink’s book The surprising truth about what motivates us.”

 

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MDI 2025 – Lego Serious Play as an agile method during our team workshop [experience report]

Incredible 40 billion Lego bricks are said to exist in the world. After they conquered the hearts of many children, the small colorful stones are now conquering the seminar rooms in the management & development industry. We wanted to experience this method ourselves. Therefore we had a Lego Serious Play workshop, where we asked ourselves: What will MDI look like in 2025?

 

Impuls Workshop Lego Serious Play – Our Hard Facts

 

Duration: 3 hours

Number of participants: 15

Facilitator: Dominik Etzl

Question: What will MDI look like in 2025?

Framework: MDI team workshop 2018, day 2

Goal: First of all, we are always looking for new agile methods and wanted to experience this one as well. Furthermore, we wanted to find a common vision for MDI in 2025.

 

Think with your hands

 

This is basically the only rule in Lego Serious Play, wherefore it is unstoppable that all participants are starting to build once the little bricks are spread out on the table. But that’s not a problem at all, as Lego Serious Play is not about thinking and planning for a long time, it’s just about doing it.

While our facilitator has given an overview of the method and different fields of application, we have already developed the first buildings within a team. In addition to the intuitive and unstoppable building, we also had some warm-up exercises, with questions such as: What motivates you in your daily work?

Lego Serious Play Teamworkshop Marketing

„It motivates me that we are a team many different characters with different tasks. Nevertheless, we have one important thing in common: we all work at MDI. The cooperation with my colleagues and the helpfulness within the team motivates me every day. ” (Judith, Marketing)

„While building my model, I realized that I do not have a strict division between my professional and personal life. All my different activities and roles in life are symbolized by the different branches in my model. Having the ability to flexibly move around on those branches and combining one with the other motivates me tremendously.” (Julia, Marketing)

Lego Serious Play Julia
Lego Serious Play Teamworkshop Consulting

“When my colleague asked me what motivates me in my job, I shaped a smiley. I think it’s important to be able to laugh a lot, no matter how serious life is. I don’t miss that at MDI. There is a lot of laughter and fun in my work environment, and that is something that motivates me to go to work! Apart from the good mood in the office, we have a great relationship with our clients and coaches! This atmosphere motivates me a lot.”(Valmire, Junior Training & Development Consultant)

Since no specific know-how or skills are necessarily needed to work with Lego Serious Play, we came straight to the point fairly quickly: What will MDI look like in 2025?

In order to obtain different results here, we have divided our team into three groups according to their functions: Consulting, Project Management, and Solution Development together with Marketing. What was the concrete task? Everyone had to build their own vision first. Afterwards, the individual versions were assembled on a large board and supplemented or shortened.

The unstoppable euphoria about building new things has temporarily paused here because the question was complex and we wanted to take some time to think about it. But after a few minutes, all three team tables (Consulting, Project Management, and Marketing + Solution Development) were already starting to build their ideas and visions.

 

The ideas and discussion

 

After 20 minutes, it was time to introduce our future visions to each other. What we quickly noticed was, that new ideas were coming to light – even though we didn’t have a lot of time. The models we built, were the ideal starting point for discussions. We did not only discuss the models within the whole MDI team but also within the small groups and departments.

But what are the next steps for now?

We brought the Lego structures of “MDI in 2025” of all the teams to our office so that the ideas, we collected during the workshop, would not be forgotten. In the next few weeks and months, we will see which ideas will be implemented. However, it is already clear that we did not only get to know another agile method but also gathered many new ideas and motivation for future projects, through this workshop.

FAST FACTS ABOUT THE TOPIC

Why Lego Serious Play?

  • Everyone is actively involved and makes their personal contribution to answering the question
  • Knowledge is taught and the learning effect is enhanced
  • Thoughts are illustrated
  • Tangible models remain stronger and longer in our memory

 

In which areas can Lego Serious Play be used?

  • In the search for new ideas and innovation
  • To create a shared vision and concrete strategies for your own company
  • Team Development
  • Communication, values, and behavior can be reflected by this method
  • To analyze future scenarios in a playful way

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How to successfully use the cynefin framework [Quick-Info]

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The framework – its origin and background

 

The main idea of the cynefin framework was developed by the Welsh management consultant Dave Snowden, who has worked for IBM for many years. The knowledge management system is supporting us in identifying and understanding different situations based on their complexity. In this way, suitable ways of acting can be derived. The framework detects in which situation agile management tools should be used and when it is better to refer to classic management methods. Not every problem requires agile solutions and methods. Therefore the Cynefin framework should always be applied BEFORE deciding which management method to use.

 

The four domains of the framework and their fields of application

 

All in all, the framework can be divided into 4 different fields:

  • Simple: in this field, the relationship between cause and effect is clear and obvious for everybody. Simply said: “if you do this, you can expect this response”.
  • Complicated: there is a clear relationship between cause and effect, but an analysis and/or expert knowledge is required.
  • Complex:  the relationship between cause and effect can only be identified afterwards, which is why it is not possible to make predictions about the future but only about the past.
  • Chaotic: there is no relationship between cause and effect.

With this framework, situations can now be divided into this four different domains. This gives me a clear and situation-specific instruction on what to do. The framework helps you to quickly analyze situations and to find the right management style. It makes a huge difference, for instance, if I am in a complicated or complex business environment.

In the complicated environment (classic management methods), an analysis should be carried out, whereas – in the complex environment – agile methods should be used. This helps companies not only to find the right management tool in a quick and efficient way but also explains why problem X, for instance, should be solved with agile methods, whereas problem Y shouldn’t.

Uschi Cynefin Framework Trainer
About the author

Ursula Weixlbaumer-Norz is always looking for new solutions for leadership challenges of our time. She is working as a trainer and coach for many years already and is specialized in team development, negotiation techniques, conflict and crisis management, intercultural competences, communication, motivation, change management and management strategies.

Since when are you working with the cynefin framework?

Ursula: About 1 1/2 years ago I came across the cynefin framework and immediately liked the idea of the framework really much. This year I was attending a further education in London on this topic.

 

What are your experiences with the framework?

Ursula: Nowadays, you get the impression that agile methods are everywhere. During my coachings and trainings, I often deal with leaders who do not know where and how to use all those new agile methods. This is exactly where the cynefin framework can support them, which makes the decision which problem-solving method to us, much easier.

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Modern technologies have changed our working conditions. Digitalization has become the number one leadership challenge. In order to succeed as a company in times of this digital revolution, a new, agile leadership approach has become a matter of survival.

Whereas the business world used to be rather steady and predictable before the digitalization, it is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA).

Nevertheless, many leaders still employ practices, strategies, and tools that were common in times before digitalization, where leadership was long-term, bureaucratic, hierarchical, directing and instructive.

But – this leadership model is no longer up to date due to the changes in the business world. Specifically, this means that

  • the “internet of things” is real
  • information is accessible to everyone instead of a small group only
  • old businesses close down and new ones open up every day
  • former constants now underlie regular change
  • expertise shows in a well-developed resource-network rather than mere theoretical knowledge

 

 What are the consequences of the digital revolution for leaders?

 

Due to the changes in our business world, a lot must change on the leadership level as well. Leadership must be adapted to constant changes and keep track with the latest technologies and trends. But what are now the specific consequences for leaders?

  • Traditional development is expensive and time-consuming
  • Teams need to be empowered; collaboration is essential
  • Development often requires customers to be involved in the process
  • Requirements are constantly changing
  • No clear conclusion, development continues

 

In short: a new leadership approach is needed.

 

We need a leadership approach that is natively adaptive to change – and does not build upon past conditions. An approach that does not assume that the world is stable and predictable – but rather is aware of the fact that the fundamental conditions have to be questioned again and again during a project. After all, the future of business-success belongs to those, who know how to use the changes for themselves and to turn challenges into opportunities.

 

Agile leadership as a new leadership approach

 

Agile leadership originates from the IT industry, which is an industry that is constantly changing. This leadership approach is designed for fast changing cycles and is using shorter sprints, iteration cycles, and continuous feedback. Agile leadership is driven by transparent processes and developments and supports team-collaboration, communication, and interaction within the team.

What do you need as an agile leader to be successful in today’s world?

agile leader in digital transformation
  1. A new mindset, to see change as an opportunity to create an agile organizational culture, to communicate the „big picture“ and to always be one step ahead of the competition.

Individuals & interactions instead of processes & tools

Working software instead of comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration instead of contract negotiation

Responding to changes instead of following a plan

2. A new skillset, to create the framework and infrastructure for an individual development of each employee.

Skills, an agile leader needs to have

 

  • Entrepreneurial thinking
  • Strong customer focus
  • Employee focus
  • Teamwork
  • Self-leadership and reflection
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Flexibility
  • Change management competencies
  • Solution competency
  • Leading virtual teams, leading from distance
  • Knowing agile work and management methods
  • High communication competency

 

3. A new toolset, to successfully implement the theory into practice and maintain an agile organizational culture.

What are the concrete consequences for you as a leader?

 

Due to the digitization, roles and responsibilities have changed within companies. The market is changing daily and the world is becoming increasingly uncertain. Agile leadership is indispensable in order to be able to assert itself as a company on the market in the long term. However, the successful transition to an agile leadership model requires the full support of everyone involved.

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Experience report from Mag. Gunther Fürstberger, CEO of MDI Management Development International.

At the end of 2016, a big car manufacturer invited us to help with the implementation of the OKR system – objectives and key results. It is important to us that our work is based on personal experiences. Therefore I decided to implement OKR at MDI from the beginning of January 2017.

2016 was not a very successful year for us anyway. We did not achieve our sales target and had a higher staff turnover than wanted. Responsibilities were not clear, employees were overstrained, the productivity was decreasing, the conflict culture was aimed at prevention and the management was not very happy about that.

Together with OKR, we introduced a new team structure and a rolling budget. The new team structure contributed to the reduction of complexity as it reduced the number of contact persons for the employees and trainer at MDI. The “rolling budget forecast” helped us to get rid of this rigid annual plan, which is usually out-of-date after the first quarter already. It gives us the possibility to adapt our resources to current developments.

At the same time, there are different kinds of views on the realization of OKR. I opted for an agile 80% approach: even though not everything was prepared yet, we started nevertheless. I visited a one-day-seminar, watched a series of YouTube videos, for instance about the implementation at Google, and defined some important cornerstones to start with the implementation of the OKR system.

Levels:

  1. Organization level,
  2. Individual OKR’s with the people who report to the managing level,
  3. Individual OKR’s of all other employees with their executives

Amount of the objectives: 3 – 5 objectives, max. 4 key results per objective

Ambition: achievement of objectives: 70%

Transparency: Google document and a poster with all the OKR’s in our kitchen: everyone can see each other’s OKR’s and grading, as well the achieving objects of the management.

Frequency: every quarter

All hands OKR meeting

Monthly meetings give employees the chance to talk about their individual objectives and to see where everybody stands at the moment

Meeting structure

 

OKR meeting:
  • Frequency: every quarter
  • When? Just before the new quarter starts (4th Thursday before the end of the quarter)
  • Duration: 6h meeting (from 10 am – 5 pm with a lunch break)
  • Purpose: to assess the company’s OKR’s from the quarter and define new ones
  • Who: one representative of all divisions: all in all 6 people

 

All hands meeting:
  • Frequency: monthly
  • When: 4th Thursday of a month at 10 am.
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Purpose: every employee talks about their OKR’s and where they stand at the moment
  • Who: every employee

 

Individual OKR meetings:
  • Frequency: every quarter
  • When: last week or first week of the quarter
  • Duration: 1h
  • Purpose: check and definition of your personal OKR‘s
  • Who: every employee with his/her executive

 

Jour Fixe:
  • Frequency: every or every second week
  • When: agreed individually
  • Duration: 30min
  • Purpose: check of the OKR’s and support for your everyday working life
  • Who: every employee with his/her executive

In December I wrote a temporary strategy for 2 years and invited the representatives from the most important divisions at MDI to the first company OKR meeting. We did not have an OKR-master back then (role as driving force, meeting moderator), therefore I was the presenter of the first meeting.

The meeting was planned to last 6h and we needed every single minute but we achieved quite a lot in the end:

  • We had one “volunteer” who wanted to take over the role of the OKR-master
  • We worked together on a concept “how OKR should look like at MDI”
  • We defined 4 objectives with each 4 key results
  • About 60% of the final OKR’s were suggestions from the team, the rest was suggested by the management

Even though we were quite exhausted afterwards, we were convinced that the OKR’s can help us to focus on the essential things. We put a poster in our kitchen with the OKR’s, which we wrote down on 4 flipcharts, our mission-vision-value-statements and our 2 years strategy. From January on we started with our individual OKR meetings. We only had one hour to define individual objectives but it worked out in the end.

To set priorities and to formulate ambitiously, measurable key results was quite an effort but saved us valuable time in the end because we knew exactly what our focus was.

We wanted to know more about OKR and therefore our OKR master attended a 3-day OKR-master-training at another institute and came back with a lot of new ideas.

Some of them were for instance:

  • A preparation template for the “all hands meetings” to increase their relevance.
  • Team OKR’s instead of individual OKR’s for every employee
  • Starting with the second quarter, we defined 3 objectives with each 3 key results instead of 4 objectives and 4 key results.

My colleague will explain more about this in another blog article.

Current results evaluation:

It looks like 2017 is going to be the best year in the company’s history. The incoming orders rose by 26% compared to the previous year. The profit has more than doubled and the staff turnover has decreased. However, the challenge now is the expansion and development of the team to keep up with the current growth. Let’s see how the journey continues.

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Scrum is probably the most known and oldest agile method and it was introduced by IT companies in the 1980s. By now not only IT companies are working with this method but many others as well. We talked to Susanne Spath, who is a Scrum certified OKR Master, about the benefits of Scrum and the difference to other agile methods.

 

What exactly is Scrum?

 

Susanne Spath: Henrik Kniberg, Agile & Lean Coach at Crisp in Stockholm describes Scrum in only a few words:

“Divide the project in small, concrete functions and prioritize them according to the business values. Now try to put each function in relation to another one and valuate them.”

Scrum is about dividing the time in repeating loops, which last no longer than 30 days. At the end of every loop, all previously defined functions must be finished and implemented. The development and functionality of the product increases with the growing number of loops (“sprints”). Despite “command and control”, Scrum’s guiding principle is “inspect and adapt”.

 

What are the similarities of Scrum and agile leadership?

 

Scrum is the mother of all agile leadership methods in many people’s opinion and was introduced by IT companies more than 20 years ago. Nowadays, many companies are working with Scrum tools and structures – also besides the IT sector. Scrum can be used in a variety of ways and is especially useful wherever knowledge work and development is happening and where complex tasks have to be done. It can be for instance used for the product development, in marketing, or for the definition of strategies, the mission and vision of a company.

 

Are there some best practice examples, companies that work with Scrum successfully?

 

Yes, many big companies, such as A1 Telekom, T-Mobile, Siemens or Audi AG.

 

Why do you think there is a need for agile methods nowadays?

 

We are living in a VUCA world (VUCA = Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and therefore living in a constant change. An objective we define today could be obsolete in two months from now because the market, the customer’s need or the target group could have changed. Using agile methods, stakeholders and (internal) clients are involved in the whole process in the end of every loop at the review meeting. They get informed about the current status, which can then be adapted, if necessary, to a final, valid and best possible result or product. You can find this in every agile method.

 

Can you give us an example for a practical and a possibly quickly implemented method from the scrum setting?

 

Very important are agile meetings. They have a flying agenda and fixed time frames in which the following points are clarified:

 

  • After the check-in of all attendees of the meeting, following questions must be answered: which problems do I have at the moment? What do I need to be able to finish my tasks in time?
  • The team has to decide who will contribute in which way to realize the next objective until the following review meeting. This is not about right or wrong.
  • The next point is the “integrated decision making”: team members make decisions about their distribution of work and the prioritization of the tasks themselves.
  • One task of the leader at this meeting, the so-called daily stand up meeting, is to provide missing information and resources.
Scrum Daily Stand up meeting

The daily stand-up meeting: one essential aspect of Scrum

What are the role/functions/tasks of a leader when it comes to Scrum methods?

 

You have different roles in the scrum framework. There is the scrum master who acts like a coach and who is responsible to look after the employees and their interaction with each other, to motivate and communicate with them and to manage conflicts. Another task of the scrum master is to ensure that the scrum framework and the process are being followed.

A further role is the one of the product owner. The product owner is responsible for the business success and acts as the interface between the stakeholders and the team. Therefore the product manager has to constantly communicate with the stakeholders.

In theory the product owner and the scrum master are two different people, in reality you often find one person playing both roles.

 

One key question of Scrum is „How little results do I have to deliver to make the customer happy?“ What is the thought behind this unusual question?

 

Agility! If the team has already thought through the end, the stakeholders have no possibility to touch up or co-create something. Now they have the possibility to find  resources that were used unnecessarily or other weak spots in time.

 

What fascinates you about Scrum and why do you improve yourself in this field?

 

Like I have mentioned before, Scrum is often seen as the mother of all agile methods. Scrum has been around for more than 20 years and it is an internationally valid method. Knowing a lot about scrum gives me a better feeling of understanding other agile methods such as OKR or design thinking.

Interview partner:

We interviewed Susanne Spath, who is an international trainer for managers and leaders and is working together with MDI for many years already. She is a certified SCRUM and OKR-Master and offers webinars and workshops in the field of agile leadership, SCRUM and OKR.

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Agile leadership on three different levels

Agile leadership on three different levels

What does agile leadership mean in general? MDI trainer Alexandra Sock explains the topic from three different perspectives: the one from an individual, a team and an organization.

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International leadership development with Mondi

Agile leadership - orientation & basics

The list of tools and concepts around agile leadership is long and somehow it seems that everybody is talking about it. Thinking that “We should also deal with that right now” seems self-evident. But what does agile leadership actually mean? And is the implementation of agile methods in the own organization really reasonable?

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What are the benefits of the OKR method?

What are the benefits of the OKR method?

Leading like Silicon Valley’s top leaders. Successful examples such as Google, Facebook & Co. are often considered as desirable and now seem to be within reach with the OKR system. Based on well-defined objectives and key results, this agile framework stands for successful corporate and employee management. It gives us the opportunity to react adequately to today’s flexible and insecure business world and allows us to find individual solutions for different challenges – together as a team. Agile leadership trainer Susanne Spath will give you a brief introduction to this topic.

Susanne Spath OKR

Guest article

This article was written by Susanne Spath. She is an international trainer for managers and leaders and is working together with MDI for many years already. She is a certified SCRUM and OKR-Master and offers webinars and workshops in the field of agile leadership, SCRUM and OKR.

Where does the need for this agile method come from?

Our today‘s VUCA world (note: VUCA = Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) is constantly changing. For a company, this means that it must be more flexible and future-oriented to cope with future challenges in the best possible way. One opportunity is to implement a new as well as approved method. OKR exists for over 10 years already and is used by companies such as Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, the method is relatively new and unconventional.

OKR is an agile system and has a 100% transparent framework which helps you to set the right focus, to use resources in an output-oriented way, to make the right decision at the right time and to rethink about your tasks and goals.

  • O’s (Objectives) – describe the target state
  • KR´s (Key results) – describe concrete measurement criteria -> the „how“

A journey to Nice

To visualize this method, I would like to share a story with you I heard about in my OKR-Master training.

Imagine you and your friends spontaneously decide to go to the South of France. Everybody wants to have fun and wants to enjoy some unforgettable spring days together. Everyone gets on the bus. This is your vision. 

Now you have to find the strategy how to get there: do we take the highway or the country road? Both have advantages, both involve some risks – you have to decide. Let’s say you take the country road because it is more charming. But: many people say that the French do not build any traffic lights. Instead, they have roundabouts, one after another. Additionally, there are no detailed signposts, only some with the next big cities such as Paris. So if you want to go to the South of France you have to decide at every roundabout, approx. every 500 meters, where to go. Sea or mountains? Somewhere quiet or fancy? You decide that you want to go to Nice. Therefore you have a focus as well.

Journey to Nice OKR

In the past, you had maps which you could get in advance (alias business plan). But the road network and driving conditions are constantly changing. For your trip you have to get along with the idea of being in an uncertain situation: is the road passable when we get there? For sure we drive at full speed between the roundabouts. After 500 meters we can decide again which exit to take, which way to go. Perhaps to the excellent winery? But if we do so, we have one day less to spend at the beach – so should we leave it? Or does it start to rain? Now the thought and decision could be: before we spend some rainy days in Southern France, we rather go to the winery.

There are so many possibilities, again and again. The important thing is to make a common and flexible decision

Sources: Murakamy

OKR in a nutshell

Let us summarize where there are parallels between the story and the OKR thus for the company context:

  • The vision is fixed but vague: a vacation in Southern France – in the company for instance: biggest supplier for the product x in area y.

 

  • A focus is essential: trip to Nice – in the company for instance: focus on sale, focus on promotion or maybe the focus on product development

 

  • The intermediate goals to realize the vision – the O’s, objectives – are constantly redefined: for the journey, for example, you have to decide at every roundabout which way to go. For a company, this could mean: which market do we focus on? Which department has the greatest leverage effect? What is the preferred product? In the story, you have to make a new decision every 500 meters. In the company, new decisions are made every 3 months at the leadership meeting. Participants are the management and representatives from various divisions.

 

  • Key results are derived directly from the objectives and are measurable: in consideration of the current resources, concrete key results are defined up to the next quarter. On the way to Nice, this would be the tank filling and the fuel price, a decision about the winery or the tires of the car. In the company, there are concrete actions: sales training, advertising campaign, product redesign and so on.

 

Implementing OKR in the company

In contrast to many other agile methods, it doesn’t make sense to implement OKR in only a few teams or departments. There would be conflicts between the OKR and regular system regarding resources and objectives. A policy decision and commitment from the management are essential to implement the system successfully in a long-term.

Those are many:

  • The company’s vision, mission, and strategy will be transmitted into short-term and therefore achievable steps
  • An understanding of the big picture is given to every employee
  • Rise of the clarity and understanding in the daily business
  • Motivation through participation
  • 100% transparency leads to better communication (everyone knows everybody’s tasks and can understand their objectives)
  • Concrete and ongoing success measures
  • Clear instructions are possible even with short resources.

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