Using OKRs for Holacracy strategy and targets

Why we adopted OKRs after trying the “normal” Holacracy strategy

Strategy “may be” defined by the Lead Link, according to the Holacracy constitution.

FAQ about how we use OKRs:

  1. We only use OKRs at circle level, not at personal or role level. Some people have defined role based OKRs but we’ve noticed that that comes very close to projects that should have clear outcomes that contribute to a circle-level OKR.
  2. The Lead Link of the circle defines the OKRs (as he/she is accountable for defining relative priorities and strategy), often gathering input from circle members.
  3. The Lead Link of our GCC (General Company Circle, which we call “Alignment”) sets the OKRs for the entire company, after which each circle’s Lead Link interprets that into OKRs for their circle.
  4. We change OKRs at least every quarter, sometimes even for 1 or 2 months periods.
  5. OKRs are graded between 0,0 and 1,0 every other week based on progress made towards the Key Result. This is done in a short discussion during the Metrics part of the Tactical meeting and documented by the Secretary. The Lead Link calls the final grade if needed.
  6. OKRs are often Metrics we keep track of in our regular weekly and monthly metric review in the Tactical meetings. Sometimes they are split up in several more specific metrics. We review about 20 metrics in each circle, with many more being tracked by individual roles in deeper Google Sheets.
  7. OKRs are not targets, they’re more like Big Hairy Audacious Goals, so we don’t couple things like compensation or even employee reviews to them. They are merely the starting point for discussion and to force ourselves to be very clear on where we’re going and what is most important NOW. Read more about common OKR pitfalls in this article.
  8. OKRs of our Alignment circle (in effect the entire company) are graded in an all hands meeting to involve everyone and trigger discussions.
  9. OKRs are added in Asana in the circle’s Tactical meeting overview, as well as an overview of all OKRs for findability and transparency.
  10. To correctly ratify our use of OKRs, I as Lead Link have added a policy on GCC level that Lead Links should define strategy with using the OKR format.
  11. There’s a role in our Smooth Operations circle called “OKR Master” that acts as OKR expert, spreading knowledge and giving feedback on badly formulated OKRs (I don’t hold that role by the way).
  12. Key Results are not projects, but projects are often derived from them. If they do converge, you have probably made your project too much like a metric / measurable outcome instead of a project that will end successfully on completion regardless of a metric it influences.
  13. If priorities change mid-OKR we change the OKRs or keep them on a bit longer. It’s not recommended to do this often but it has allowed us to dynamically steer while still having clarity on where we want to go.

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Founder @Springest. More me at https://ruben.org

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Ruben Timmerman

Ruben Timmerman

Founder @Springest. More me at https://ruben.org

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