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Tuesday, August 6 • 14:00 - 15:15
Beginning with an End in Mind: The Secrets of Re-Shaping an Enterprise with OKRs (Mariya Breyter) POPULAR

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"You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation." ~ Homer Rice
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) have been well known for decades now, and John Doerr's book on Measuring What Matters became a hit immediately after it was published. However, while OKRs as a concept seems logical and straightforward, many companies struggle with implementing this concept in an aligned and inspirational way. As an Agile coach implementing OKRs in multiple large organizations, I experience five major anti-patterns:
  • OKRs are implemented top-down. OKRs are not KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)** which are top-down arbitrary numbers provided by management to each employee at the beginning of a long-term period (usually a year). OKRs are set by teams, not individuals, and aligned with organizational objectives. In that, OKRs are inspirational and encourage teams to set up the objectives that motivate them and inspire self-organizing teams to make a difference.
  • OKRs are used to measure performance and define compensation . Unlike KPIs which are used to measure performance and this influences compensation and promotions, OKRs are not related to performance in any way. Numbers are easy to game, and connecting OKRs to performance would negate the purpose of those. OKRs need to be aspirational and hard to achieve, and by doing that, the teams challenge them to continuously grow and become high-performing. This is the reason OKRs are self-graded, not measured by the managers.
  • OKRs are focused on activities, not results. Frequently, OKRs are focused on activities or tasks, e.g. provide 100 training sessions, hire 300 employees, create a Playbook covering 50 topics. While sometimes there is a reason for task-based key results, in most cases, the objective is either customer-related (e.g. customer satisfaction), business objective (e.g. revenue growth), employee-related (e.g. retention data), or a related goal. In either case, it forces teams to pivot if the initial set of activities does not bring the intended result and fail forward to pursue the goal. OKR example
  • OKRs need to be measured by managers. OKRs are self-graded by the team that committed to those. Pre-grading is a helpful technique which allows setting quantifiable success criteria from 0 (not started) to 1 (challenging but possible).
  • OKRs are assessed at the end of the period for which they are set. OKRs are reviewed at frequent intervals (usually monthly for quarterly or annual OKRs), and it is important to keep in mind that the value of those sessions is not in grades but in alignment and collaboration discussions and outcomes.
During the workshop, we will be playing several OKR-setting games. The goal of these games is to experience in practice how to avoid common mistakes and set up cascading OKRs bottom-up by empowering teams, aligning divisions, and keeping the organizational objectives in focus - all of this while keeping employees motivated and inspired. Finally, we will discuss OKR implementation and review examples of how OKRs empower teams to self-organize while achieving shared goals within a scaled agile environment.

Learning Outcomes:
  • We know that mastery, autonomy, and purpose drive our professional satisfaction and create motivation. However, as human beings, we are all motivated by different objectives that may not be aligned with each other's or with organizational goals.
  • How do we create a meaningful alignment of our team's goals, individual aspirations, and company objectives? How do we establish complete transparency across the organization so that at each moment of time anyone would see the same picture and understand how their individual or their team's activities contribute to this shared goal? How do we get a say in what are the objectives and a clear understanding of why they are so important for the whole company?
  • Participants will leave the workshop with a clear understanding of the process of: (a) how to build a cascading OKR structure within a scaled Agile organization, (b) how to continuously pivot and self-assess their team's results, and (c) how to align the whole organization while allowing for team-level self-organization.
  • In sum, they will have a framework of how to implement OKRs in an aligning and empowering way while having fun and building their network playing two exciting simulation games.


avatar for Mariya Breyter

Mariya Breyter

Product Management Leader, Amazon
Mariya Breyter is an enterprise agile coach, and transformation and strategy leader with over twenty-year experience ranging from government jobs to versatile corporate experience in financial services, healthcare, media, and education. Mariya's professional passion is leading enterprise-level... Read More →

Tuesday August 6, 2019 14:00 - 15:15 EDT
Chesapeake D/E/F