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Introducing Projects: The missing link in OKRs

Francisco Homem de Mello

As you might have noticed, we’ve been spending a lot of time working on OKRs and our OKRs feature. We believe OKRs, when well managed, can make or break the success of an organization. And since our mission is to help organizations of all sizes accomplish more, we thought an amazing OKRs feature would make all the difference for our customers.
Anyway, I’m here today to introduce a new feature we’ve built and that we believe is incredibly useful to get better at using OKRs to manage a company: projects!

“What?”, you may ask, “projects?”

Yes, projects.

Why your organization should track Projects and OKRs alongside each other

We believe OKRs have a core benefit: making people more aware of the difference between results and efforts, and in the process, fostering a culture of focus on results. And in order to better surface the differences between the two, we believe they should coexist in a company’s execution map, and be discussed in the same rituals. 

Our feature wasn’t doing that.

See, OKRs (i.e., Objectives and their Key Results) per se should only have to do with results. But there’s a whole ocean of things in an organization going on that can’t be tracked by OKRs but are nonetheless crucial to its success: all the efforts the company’s teams and individuals are making to, hopefully, achieve their results.

An example:  let’s say a software company, Macrosoft, has an Objective called “grow revenues from products A and B,” as measured by one Key Result: “Increase revenues from new customers from products A and B by $ 500k in 2019.” As we know, this Objective won’t be achieved if someone doesn’t do something about it. So Macrosoft’s Product Marketing Manager, Melinda, thinks about how she can contribute to the company’s OKR and dutifully creates an Objective for herself called “enhance products A and B’s marketing collateral” with the following Key Results: “Map all existing collateral,” “perform gap analysis with the help of Sales Ops,“ and “deliver enhancements by the end of the quarter.” Great stuff, right? 

WRONG.

Melinda’s OKR is not an OKR. It’s not about results. It’s a combination of efforts that, if successful, will contribute to a result, increasing product sales. Using OKRs to track these efforts will just confound the team about the true nature of results, as something different than efforts. Melinda has to keep in mind that there’s little value to an effort if it doesn’t produce the expected results. So should she just not track her efforts? Or, better, should Macrosoft not track the efforts being undertaken by its team? 

We believe efforts should indeed be tracked closely. Specifically, alongside OKRs. Giving people the option to track their Projects, which are how most important efforts are organized, alongside their OKRs, helps to ensure better strategy execution and helps to bring out – and ultimately teach people – the differences between efforts and results. 

Is Qulture.Rocks going into project management?

No! Qulture.Rocks will never take the place of great project management tools like Asana and Trello. Our idea is to be where a company tracks its execution, at a high level – the day-to-day of projects will continue to be conducted elsewhere (just please don’t use MS Project :).

In practice, Qulture.Rocks is where Projects are tracked and discussed at management meetings, whereas project management tools are where major deliverables are broken down in tasks, assigned to people, and so on. Qulture.Rocks stays on the strategic level, and all these other amazing tools take care of the very importante tactics.

That’s it. We wanted to tell you about Projects and how tracking them alongside OKRs can really help you execute more and better. A bunch of articles will follow about what makes great projects and how it all looks like at the Platform.

We hope you’re stoked as we are 🙂
Kiko

PS: If you want to learn more about how to manage your company using OKRs, download for free our book OKRs, From Mission to Metrics, also available for sale on Amazon.