OKR, CFR and Culture: How to improve performance by becoming more transparent and accountable

Objectives are inspiration, Key results are metric driven, CFR ensure that those priorities get transmitted. Culture is the medium through which OKRs are transmitted in an organisation

If you want to learn how Intel and Google manage performance Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth tells you how.

Most companies have some form of performance management, some also have some form of Objective and Key results, but how Intel and Google OKRs are different – Transparency, Accountability and Continuous, if I could sum up in 3 words. It has to come from the very top, founder or the CEO has to believe in these 3 words to make this version of OKRs successful. Most junior staff can look up at everyone’s goals, on up to the CEO. Critiques and corrections are out in public view. Can your company do that ?

As Laszlo Bock in Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead puts it “It is a market based approach, where over time our goals all converge because the top OKRs are known, and everyone else’s OKRs are visible”

How is it related to strategy ? OKRs are meant to be guardrails, not chains or blinders. It is similar to guiding policy talked about Richard Rumelt in Book Review: Good Strategy Bad Strategy. So it is part of 3 step process- diagnosis, guiding policy and coherent action.

CFR or Conversations Feedback and Recognition help transmit OKRs to the whole organisation. One important thing is OKRs and CFR should be independent from compensation and formal evaluation. They can be part of it, say 1/3rd OKRs can be part of annual reviews, but OKRs and CFRs should stay independent.

As Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead says, feedback allows us to know what impression we make on others. So to reap full benefits of OKRs, feedback must be integral to the process.

Culture is the caveat. The first step companies should take before implementing OKRs. Get your culture conducive to OKRs, (or the purpose would fail). Dov Seidman in his groundbreaking book on culture How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything…in Business  says culture is one thing that can’t be copied or commoditized. This is the difference between ordinary companies and world’s top companies. Another book that proposes a similar system is The Progress Principle that talks of Catalyst ( OKRs ) and Nourishers ( CFRs ). So the concept is not new, but very hard to implement. If you want 10x growth, then you have develop your own system of OKRs

Larry Page wrote in the forward of the book that he wished he had this book nineteen years ago. The book has been published for almost 3 years now. If you haven’t read it, you don’t have wait for 19 years.