About 70 interested people signed up for Workpath‘s OKR FORUM, this time in Munich on the 6th floor of CDTM. It is already the third OKR Forum Workpath has held at locations such as Deloitte Digital. The goal of the meet-up? To get informed about OKRs, find inspiration and advice on its usage from experienced OKR leaders or just to meet and greet like-minded people. The program was: An expert speech with HolidayCheck about their experiences in implementing OKRs and a Panel Discussion with Workpath, Personio, FlixBus, JochenSchweizer and of course HolidayCheck.

Workpath introduces OKRs

But what is an OKR Forum and what is it about? To answer this question, we first have to ask ourselves, what are these OKRs. “OKR stands for so called Objective Key Result and is a form of agile goal and performance management in companies or start-ups. It has first been introduced by Andrew Grove from Intel”, as Johannes Müller from Workpath explains to make sure everyone is understanding. “Who of you already works with OKRs?”, he asks in-between. Around half of the people present raise their arms or nod with their heads. The others are interested in learning how to implement the concept and what challenges its implementation brings. “OKRs are the question of finding measurable criteria for the goals we aim for”, he pauses, “but it goes beyond that, and beyond goal and performance measurement, because it focuses on how we set our goals, how we collaborate on them and how we measure them in the end.”

OKRs: 12 Months later…

…big letters state on the slides of HolidayCheck. Karl Pitrich and Mathias Gorf from HolidayCheck held this time’s Expert speech. “Today, we want to give you an insight on how we experienced implementing the OKR concept in the past months, and what you can learn from us”, Karl Pitrich, Head of Engineering says. The key message of their story: It has not been easy, but it definitely has brought its benefits. While sharing their experiences on OKRs, they emphasize the key learnings they made and advice they were able to abstract from these learnings.
For example, one of the key learnings is that one should never try to copy the model of another company. “It won’t fit, or it will even harm you”, Karl states. The better step is to gather knowledge about OKRs and how they work. Also one should not try to align ones goals to the existing organization, but align the organization to the goals one sets.

“OKRs are a kind of mirror for your organization”, Mathias adds, “they reflect the gap between the state of the organization and its vision or ideal”. But before simply implementing OKRs, it is also an important step to identify dependencies. That means, you cannot simply set goals without keeping all the different stakeholders in mind. This is also why HolidayCheck introduced daily stand-ups, similarly to Scrum. Keeping all stakeholders in mind goes hand in hand with communication, another key success factor of OKRs. Not only do OKRs enhance the communication between management and teams, but it is also crucial to strengthen this communication. An idea from HolidayCheck: “Confidence Levels”. Through confidence levels team members state their confidence in reaching a given goal, e.g. “I am 75% sure that I will reach the goal on time”. This type of communication unearths issues early and promotes support.

But how do you even set the goals? The two from HolidayCheck have their own idea. They have so-called “Super Teams”. That is, the management has a vision of their goal and distributes it to everyone. Cross functional teams then come up with ideas what goals to set and how to measure if the vision is reached. Each team then presents their ideas in a marketplace-like concept, where engineers decide on which ideas to choose. Deciding for and merging of ideas then results in these super teams, a team consisting out of further teams and individuals. “However, keep in mind, one should never copy the strategy of another company when it’s about OKRs. You have to find your own way”, Karl reminds.
“When you have finally set your goals and teams, don’t expect to see immediate effects.” Karl says. OKRs and their implementation need their time. And also, one should set oneself up to fail. Because at first, failing is just a part of the process. “But with time passing by, you realize, you fail less and less.”

A discussion with Personio, FlixBus, HolidayCheck and Jochenschweizer

Jonas Rieke (Personio), Samuel Schürmann (Flixbus) and Säm Abdelkhalek (JochenSchweizer), as well as the two guest speakers from HolidayCheck then sit together and have a moderated discussion by Johannes from Workpath. All of them explain their path to OKRs, the problems they wanted to solve through the concept and their own views and experiences. Together they discuss questions regarding the biggest challenges faced and how they managed to implement OKRs in their companies.