Building cadence with Objectives and Key Results (OKR) — Part 1

This article covers the motivations behind our OKR adaptation and its implementation format in Gift Card Indonesia (GCI).

Typeface: Sutro

In this 2-part series, I purposely used ‘I’ to take in the responsibility as the person who made the call to do this OKR initiative in Gift Card Indonesia (GCI). Thus, if you found a faulty reasoning with this approach or had a different view, please address them to me directly. However, the success of this initiative — big or small — is all credited to my Product and Engineering teams. Their support made this work.

Motivations

I was initially looking for a way to build a better cadence for my teams. Cadence was apparently more crucial after I was trusted to manage the Engineering team, in addition to the Product group. Also, I believe that it is important to share a feeling of camaraderie that we’re moving towards the same goals — together. That is, to know that each of our priority is aligned with and supporting others’. Not always easy, but the motivations were clear.

The following email tries to capture the essence.

When I first shared to my teams that we’re going to adopt the OKR framework

Why am I sharing this story?

The thought to write this article originally came during a discussion about the topic for my speaking engagement re: effective communication. The event organizer was particularly interested in how I had been using OKR to mitigate some of the communication challenges in my organization. It got me into thinking, maybe it’d be useful for others too.

A few days before that, a colleague who had recently joined GCI, shared that he did not find OKR useful in the last 2 companies he had worked for. But, he noticed somehow it worked here. I’d like to attribute it to — as he confirmed —a simple supporting process, which I’ll elaborate in the next article.

Apart from those 2 “external” stimuli, I’m interested to share this because of the real benefits that we have experienced as a team. We started this in Oct 2016, a couple of months after the company opted for the 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) across the board (for a bigger company-wide goal). However, this OKR adaptation is still on until today; whereas, the 4DX was discontinued altogether earlier this year.

Notes: I did not mean to compare the effectiveness of OKR and 4DX. However, I’d like to point out that they do differ in a way that OKR is a framework and 4DX is a methodology. Due to how a framework is usually formulated, we typically have more implementation flexibility. Your OKR implementation might be very different from ours; whereas, it is not uncommon to find a homogenous 4DX execution throughout its adoptees.


Our OKR implementation and format

Our OKR takes a form of weekly status email. Please don’t dread the word ‘email’ yet. We use email essentially as an editor to forward the content (of our OKR) into our Basecamp. I don’t encourage an email-concentric OKR workflow, but you can if you want to. Ours is based on Basecamp.

How does our weekly status email look like?

We discuss our OKR / prioritization on Basecamp

Technically, there are 5 main sections in the email that can be nicely explained in 2 groups:

Group 1: Objective and Key Results (OKR)

The following internal post describes what’s important in this first group.

The ‘article’ link goes to this page

Group 2: Priorities and Risks

  • Last week’s priorities: Items that you had planned to complete last week. A 0–10 scale at the end of each line is to indicate how happy you’re with the result. 10 indicates the highest satisfaction. The scale is inspired by the concept of Net Promoter Score. Yes, this is subjective assessment, but good enough to let everyone know the item’s status. To the very least, the scale encourages conversation between the team members.
  • This week’s / current priorities: Your highest priority items for the week. In a perfect world, you never have to copy-paste the last week’s priorities into this section. But, let’s be real: sometimes we have to. This is alright, as long as we’re transparent about it.
  • Risks / blockers: This is the place in which you share your vacation / time-off plan, concerns, etc.

Summary

Up to this point, we have covered our motivations and how the team share their objectives and key results in a specific format. In the next article, I’d elaborate the supporting process that made this initiative effective as part of our productivity routine. Also, present the benefits that the Product and Engineering teams have pocketed in.


Thank you for reading. And, have a wonderful day.