Why “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” – the Lumeris Story, From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

Companies everywhere are seeking ways to improve the execution of their strategic objectives. The protocols vary from MBOs and KPIs, to BSC, to “waterfalls”, to OKRs and CFRs. The one thing each methodology has in common is the need for the right culture!

As Jim Collins says in “Good to Great”,

Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. Only then do you step on the gas.

To illustrate Collins’ point, John Doerr relates the story of Lumeris (a technology provider in the healthcare space) in his best seller, “Measure What Matters”. For anyone considering an OKR implementation the following is a “must read”.

OKRs – the Wrong Way

The Lumeris business model is secondary. Their story starts with a failed OKR implementation. The initial OKR program at Lumeris sounded good, looked good, but was failing at its most basic level. People were developing OKRs, they were reporting on performance, albeit, after the fact, and results were being reviewed by management. However, when questioned as to how OKRs aligned with corporate objectives employees were clueless.

Missing was buy-in from senior management, coupled with a cultural misfit and a distrust of the system.

Transformation First

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. People watch management’s actions more than they listen to what they say. Culture needed to be addressed first. Several senior, autocratic executives were exited. Eighty-five percent of the HR department was turned over, and significant changes were made in middle management.

Relaunch of OKRs

Only after culture had been addressed were OKRs and CFRs relaunched. The second iteration featured better training, improved software, senior management buy-in, and an improved culture.

As powerful as the protocol may be, without senior management’s enthusiastic endorsement, their involvement in the process, and the right culture, even OKRs and CFRs won’t be effective.

Happily, the relaunched platform is performing famously at Lumeris today.

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!


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