OKRs is the abbreviation for Objectives and Key Results. If you know nothing about OKRs and want to learn more, I can easily point you to one person – Ben Lamorte, a business author and the President of OKRs.com. I could listen to Ben all day, but at least we got to hear him for about an hour on implementing OKRs in your business.
My Favorite Takeaways from Ben’s Discussion on OKRs
We get so busy, we rarely take time for critical reflection, a concept he learned from a professor.
What’s the Destination?
Ben’s mentor over the years has been Jeff Walker, a former CFO for Oracle. Walker was instrumental in teaching Ben about OKRs. “What’s the destination,” is a concept Walker drilled into Ben which he considers the heart of OKRs.
OKRs Before Budgeting or Modeling
Ben believes OKRs precede the creation or the update of the driver-based financial model or any budgeting process.
Even the AP Department Needs a Mission Statement
During the conversation, Ben gave an example of an AP department which also needs a mission statement with clear objectives.
Betterworks was the first company to create a software application around OKRs.
OKRs and Learning Go Together
Learning is a byproduct of a great OKR implementation. Yet, the process of applying new learning in the organization is hard to operationalize in any business, regardless of size.
Ben provides a great example of a company wanting 500 partners who started with 100. Through the OKR process, they realized they wanted more but better partners.
For example, it’s not enough to say you want to add 3 new reps this year. It’s better to say that you want 3 new reps generating at least $2 million in new revenue within 9 months.
In short, learning is the key to mastering OKRs.
OKRs Are Not About the How
Businesses are continually stuck in the ‘how’ of doing business. Employees already know ‘how’ to do the work. They just don’t know the end goal or the objective of their work.
The OKR coach does not figure out what you need to do. The OKR coach instead helps you to align outcomes at the very highest level and turn those into measurable statements.
Never confuse output with outcomes. For example, completing 25 blog posts are outputs. Generating 6 qualified leads which produces $5 million in new revenue stemming from those 25 blog posts is an outcome.
Dealing with Naysayers
Ben’s secret to dealing with naysayers is not to educate or argue. He starts with where the skeptic is in their thinking. In many cases, naysayers become believers.
OKRs and Implementation
The implementation process is simple. Ben recommends starting with small teams within a division first – never start at the entire company level.
Ben also recommends implementing OKRs at the team level before starting at the individual level.
Ben is the co-author of Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs. In my opinion, this is the go-to book for learning and implementing OKRs. If the book-length intimidates you, then read the first three chapters and skim the rest while slowing down for the parts that resonate. His second book is the hands-on, practical field guide for the first which is geared toward coaches and consultants.
John Doerr’s Book
I appreciated the praise that Ben gave to John Doerr’s, Measure What Matters. I was not that impressed with the book, but that’s because I had read Ben’s book first.
Ben recommends the audio version as we even get to hear John himself in the early chapters.
3 Books That Ben Likes
Whether I’m interviewing someone or talking to a CEO, I always want to know what they are reading. Ben gave three books he likes on the show.
If you are a fan of Peter Senge and The 5th Discipline, then he recommends The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook – probably the most influential book on Ben’s coaching career.
Ben also recommends the book by Christina Wodtke, Radical Focus. He says it’s a light and easy read with a strong message.
Finally, Ben thinks there should be a movie about Patrick Lencioni’s, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.
3 Ways to Connect with Ben Lamorte
If you would like to know more about OKRs or want to learn how to implement OKRs in your own business, start by studying Ben’s company website at OKRs.com. Also, make sure you go to the Resources page to download his whitepaper.
You can also connect with Ben on his LinkedIn profile.
Finally, during the podcast, Ben even stated you could connect with him directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I loved this episode. It’s one I’ll listen to again. Don’t be surprised if we have Ben back for round 2. Ben, you rock.