The Benefits of OKR

Product Narrative
Apr 25 · 5 min read

Welcome to Shared Narrative #20!

“Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation, must bear the fatigue of supporting it.”

- Thomas Paine (one of the Founding Fathers of United States)

The quote is aptly appropriate to describe how if you want to reap the benefits (of something) then you need to work for it. Only after a solid amount of effort and your willingness to work for it, can you feel and see the benefits.

The same goes for OKR.

Implementing OKR has its challenges. Our experience shows us that it takes many, many iterations just to be able to write the right Objective and Key Results. In addition, we saw teams having difficulties in determining their focus for the week. In other words: once you know how to write OKR, you’ll be challenged on the content of the OKR that you wrote. OKR challenges you to think critically, especially when it comes to prioritization and strategic planning both for yourself and for your team (if you’re a team leader or a manager).

However, don’t be discouraged. You can look at these challenges as the things you need to anticipate and overcome when adopting OKR practice. Once you pass these challenges, there are many benefits waiting on the other side.

From the beginning of this year, we have been engaging with Midtrans (part of the GOJEK group), a company that has been instrumental to provide one of the most crucial pillars in online commerce: a simple, reliable, and secure payment solution. After coaching several of their teams (close to 20 people in the span of 6–8 weeks), we gathered their feedback about the experience using OKR. And, we’re happy to report that the feedback has been positive; they saw and felt the benefits of OKR firsthand.

Below are some of the feedback from both the team members and the team leaders about OKR practice.

Ms. L (initial), a team lead of seven

“Even when one of my direct reports didn’t attend the meeting, I could see her focus of the week and the actionable steps she needed to take to achieve that by looking at her OKR. It was certainly better than just giving an update on weekly task, of which I still needed to do a lot of asking to find out what their next steps were.”

Mr. D, a team lead of three

“OKR helps in coordinating between team member. If there’s a shared responsibility (or Key Result) between more than one person, OKR helps to clarify the responsibility of each person. For example: if there’s a work that needs to be approved, then there’ll be clarity: when and to whom the work needs to be submitted and who needs to give the approval and when it needs to happen.”

Mr. M, a team lead of four

“Because OKR is visible and transparent, we can see someone’s focus for this week. We can also see someone’s progress and achievement last week, or the weeks before. This can be used as a conversation topic during 1:1 session.

In addition, due to the self-scoring nature of OKR, every team member now has the opportunity to speak up and explain their progress on the past week.”

Ms. S, a team member

“OKR made me realize my work actually matters to the company. Because there’s an alignment, I am now much more aware that my work is needed to support the team’s goal, which in turn will help the company reaches its goal.”

Ms. F, a team member

“OKR helps me to think in a more structured way. It gives me clarity on which is important and which is urgent. Thus, it helps me to set my priorities: what is the most important thing to achieve this week and how I should work on it. I’m more focused because of OKR.”

As a summary: based on our experience, OKR has many benefits and it can be categorized into two: benefits for team members and benefits for team leaders.

Benefits for team members:

  • You’d be able to focus on your goal (and its related milestones and tasks) for this week.
  • You’d be able to easily look back on your achievement last week. Or other older weeks.
  • Prepare you to become a more effective manager. Perhaps in the future when you have to achieve audacious goals.
  • It’s usually difficult to give feedback to your peers — or ask for them. The OKR format and transparency should help to trigger this conversation.

Benefits for team leaders:

  • More time for you to think strategically, e.g. what your team needs to focus to achieve the team’s goals.
  • Allow your team members to make their own commitments. You don’t do it for them.
  • It helps you to recall what each team member contributions are during the 1:1 session.
  • Easier to have a conversation to evaluate work quality, especially because the team member herself rated her KR. Less personal conflict (potentially).

Others were saying . . .

Google is widely recognized as one of the biggest company in the world. For all of Google’s success, much of the credit was given to OKR and its ability to revolutionize goal setting. Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, shared the same sentiment, so much so that he agrees to write the foreword in John Doerr’s book about OKR, Measure What Matters. This is what he has to say.

“OKRs have helped lead Google to 10x growth, many times over. They’ve helped make our crazily bold mission of “organizing the world’s information” perhaps even achievable. They’ve kept me and the rest of the company on time and on track when it mattered the most.”


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Want to find out more . . .

Check out our website to find out why we set up Product Narrative.

You can read past editions of Shared Narrative here: #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19

Have a great day!

- The Product Narrative Team

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Product Narrative

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We help company leaders add more hours to build their business — by coaching their teams to self-manage to support the shared company goals.

Product Narrative Publication

A collection of work by Product Narrative. The topics include building narrative, Objectives and Key Results (OKR), Product Management, and People Ops.

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