OKRs, Strategy Execution Versus People Ops – What You Need to Know

In the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) space, software providers have followed one of two very different paths. Several providers have focused their platforms and services on the CFR (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition) adjunct to OKRs. In “Measure What Matters,” John Doerr states, “CFRs give OKRs their human voice.” Some providers have taken this direction and dedicated their service to a protocol which replaces the annual review process and focuses on the Human Resources aspect of the OKR/CFR methodology.

Other providers have opted to follow a more direct, strategy execution implementation of OKRs. This is not to say they de-emphasize CFRs as Conversations occur during regularly scheduled Check-Ins. Feedback and Recognition are also valuable but in the context of monitoring and measuring performance towards top corporate priorities.

In this article, we’ll contrast the different approaches, OKR strategy execution versus the use of CFRs in a Human Resources approach.

OKRs Ensure Alignment and Focus on What Matter Most

We believe that the “secret sauce” of OKRs is helping companies to execute strategy at the highest levels. Studies show that CEOs consider strategy execution a top priority, attributable in large part to a lack of employee awareness and engagement. In a Harvard Business Review, Robert Kaplan and David Norton state that, “95% of employee’s do not fully understand the company’s goals or what’s expected of them!

At its most basic level, the OKR methodology is about setting and making measurable the right goals. When supported by senior management the OKR protocol can help you surface the most important corporate strategies, communicate goals and objectives to the entire organization, focus effort and alignment, and establish metrics to measure progress.

A two-year Deloitte study found that no single factor has more impact on corporate performance than “clearly defined goals that are written down and shared freely. Goals create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction.”

We believe adherence to the best practices offered in Doerr’s “Measure What Matters” provides the highest likelihood of success. Consider the impact of an implementation that unlocks the Superpowers of OKRs:

  • Focus and Commitment to top priorities
  • Alignment and Connectivity for teamwork
  • Tracking progress for accountability
  • Using ambitious goals to stretch for amazing performance

Benefits of OKRs in Executing Strategy

The below bullet points will reiterate many of the most important benefits of an OKR implementation for your company:

  • Clear and Accurate Communication: inform everyone about what is truly important
  • Focus: focuses efforts on the key priorities that are the most important
  • Alignment & Cross-Functional Collaboration: align everyone at your company
  • Connect Employees: connect your employees’ work so that everyone sees how they fit into the bigger picture. This improves everyone’s performance and your business results
  • Improve Continuous Learning: OKRs offer your company faster learning and improvement that drives better results
  • Visibility, Transparency & Accountability: OKRs bring transparency to your company and breaks down silos. Everyone has visibility company-wide, and this drives more collaboration and better performances
  • Establish Measurable Progress Indicators: by establishing key progress indicators, everyone in your organization is clear on how to accelerate performance and drive results

Why CFRs (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition) are the Natural Adjunct to OKRs

Obviously, we acknowledge and understand the potential role for CFRs in a Human Resource application. However, we believe the primary focus should be on the potential of CFRs to provide feedback from contributors to determine the status of ongoing performance to Key Results, to identify obstacles or roadblocks hindering the achievement of your goals, and to allow for real-time adjustments or course corrections. As such, our platform provides for automated Check-Ins and One-on-Ones to accomplish these things.

You cannot set and forget OKRs. In the absence of Conversations and Feedback on progress, you are not doing the methodology or your organization justice.

OKRs & CFRs for Continuous Improvement in Your Company’s Performance

We concur that OKRs and CFRs are mutually reinforcing. The Conversations and Feedback relate directly to the performance measures set in the OKR process. CFRs provide an opportunity for coaching and motivating people; they provide a platform for bi-directional Feedback, and, they encourage and enable Recognition of team’s and individual’s performance.

When implemented properly, together, OKRs and CFRs can boost execution, create an environment of achievement, and produce 10X results.

Are you a CEO or senior executive responsible for strategy? Do you set strategy, goals, and track performance? 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!


Image Credit: Stockvault

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