The 'ABC' Meeting Rhythm for OKR's
Objectives and key results (OKR) is a goal-setting framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.
“Sometimes an organization doesn’t need a solution; it just needs clarity.”
Ben Horrowitz, ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things
OKR’s aim to make the complex seem somewhat simple by promoting a focused approach to problem-solving and prioritisation on what really matters. The 20% that counts!
OKRs comprise an objective—a clearly defined goal—and 3–5 key results—specific measures used to track the achievement of that goal. The goal of OKR is to define how to achieve objectives through concrete, specific and measurable actions. Key results can be measured on a 0–100% scale or any numerical unit (e.g. dollar amount, %, items, etc.).
Objectives should also be supported by initiatives, which are the plans and activities that help to achieve the objective and move forward the key results. It is recommended that your target success rate for key results be 70%. A 70% success rate encourages competitive goal making that is meant to stretch workers at low risk. If 100% of the key results are consistently being met, key results should be reevaluated.
“Build a culture that rewards—not punishes—people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.”
Ben Horrowitz, ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Over the last 15 years, while developing Travel Out There, a company that offers off-site and team-building retreats to clients across Europe, I came to the realisation that company culture can not be developed or ‘fixed’ outside the workplace.
Company culture has to be developed and nurtured internally and the health of an organisation directly correlates with the health of its meeting culture. Yet, meetings have become dysfunctional, participants distracted and decisions rarely made, costing companies millions in lost productivity. The sudden huge shift to virtual meetings makes it even more challenging to run effective meetings.
Working from home has its advantages, time saved from commuting, fewer distractions from co-workers, and saving money on office space. Yet many people are becoming terribly lonely and struggling to differentiate their time between work and play. Whether it becomes a more effective and efficient ‘new normal’ will depend greatly on companies developing a meeting culture where decision-making becomes habitual and employees engage with one another effectively - time to “GetFocused”.
Introducing the ABC Meeting Rhythm:
Quarterly 1-2 day Off-Site.
Agree & align on the team's next quarterly objectives.
Monthly 60-120 min. Evaluate the critical key results
to meet quarterly objectives.
Weekly 60 min
Review & resolve short-term challenges to hit key results.
Action-Plan Quarterly Meeting
Objectives. During the meeting identify 1 to 3 key objectives of the company or team. These can be set as 'topics' during the meeting itself.
They need to be ambitious and aspirational but also time-bound. To be achieved within the quarter or within 12 months.
These can act as the guiding light(s) / north star for the team.
“Objectives need to be inspirational, a call to action that gets folks to leap out of bed, ready for a new day and a new challenge.”
KRs (Key Results)
These can be set as tasks for each topic (objective) during the meeting. They need to quantifiable, clear, difficult, but not unachievable. Best to limit KRs to three to five tasks for each topic and be sure to make them measurable, time-bound and accountable. This then allows teams to track progress, understand the challenges and develop/improve processes along the way.
“Key results take all that inspirational language and quantify it. You answer the simple question ‘How would we know if we met our Objective?”
Don’t over structure or overburden the schedule;
Some companies opt to run these meetings off-site or as a facilitated workshop. GetFocused can help you run these events. Click here for more information.
Consider hiring a professional facilitator to build your agenda and lead your team through the process; and Discuss topics like the competitive landscape, morale, team dynamics, top and bottom performers, customer satisfaction, anything that has a long-term impact on the success of the company.
Brainstorming Monthly Meeting
Key Results (tasks) set during the Action-Plan meeting can be used as key topics for the monthly brainstorming meeting.
Teams can then share and evaluate ideas on how best to accomplish the key result required.
Effectively breaking down / cascading the key result into another three to five-set of tasks to hit the desired result.
We would recommend limiting the number of topics (Key Results) to be brainstormed to three for a 60-120 minute meeting.
Ensure that everyone is clear of the objectives and have spent time preparing;
Make sure the right people are invited to the meeting; and Be prepared to ask the question if the topic is really the core problem / key question.
Weekly Check-in Meeting
Weekly check-in's allow team members to track the progress of the tasks, key results, and objectives. It also allows the team to keep on track on what are the key priorites are and tackle any short term challenges needing to be resolved to accomplish the desried result.
Monday is a check in that is a conversation across the whole team. Christina Wodtke, in the book Radical Focus, recommends a 4 quadrant box that shows the group’s OKRs.
Top left is the priorities this week, don’t list everything that you have done. Rather it should only be the P1s, and only P2s if you think it affects someone else. Set the tone to be around team members helping others. Have fewer priorities and shorter updates.
Forecast for the month: what should your team know is coming up that they can help with or prepare for?
Top right is the OKR confidence. When you start the with the OKR process all the key results are at 5/10, and through out the qtr you update the confidence on the KR, and have a conversation around when the KRs change.
The Health quadrant is for two things you want to protect as you strive towards greatness. What can you not screw up?
Keep the status updates short and have fewer priorities.
Another opportunity to conduct a check-in meeting is on Fridays. The goal is to celebrate, teams demo what they can. Project Managers show mockups and engineers show code/demos. Celebrate the achievements, and each team should share something. The goal is to feel like a team, and a winning team. And the team members start looking forward to sharing something, and they seek out wins throughout the week.
GetFocused provides the framework, methodology, and technology for companies to improve not only the focus but the ‘fitness’ of their meetings. That not only improves the overall health of the organisation but also each employee accordingly….freeing up time to spend on the things that really matter. Whether it be focused on work, time with family/friends, or staying physically and mentally well!
Don’t sit down, Stand!
Keep the routine of conducting these meetings, even if not everyone can be there, especially in the post Covid-19 world; and
Allocate time to manage any issues that may arise, this will save time later in the day by avoiding the ping-pong of emails or the need for a second, ad-hoc meeting.
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