March 30, 2021
Improving Operational Excellence with Implementation of OKR Framework- An Interview with Tanmoy Majumder, Executive VP, Infopro Learning
Objectives and Key Results is a popular goal management strategy that gives organizations the edge to achieve the desired results. As the Father of OKRs, Andy Grove, said,” while adopting OKRs, at the end you know what you achieved and what you did not.” The powerful OKR framework helps to set strategic goals, focus on priorities, and drive operational excellence, as teams understand their contribution towards accomplishing the company’s goals and vision.
To understand how OKRs have proved beneficial for Operations function, we talked to Tanmoy Majumder, Executive Vice President, Infopro Learning, to learn about his experiences of utilizing the OKR framework to improve operational processes and overall business outcomes.
Q: Like any other vertical within an organization, it is equally important for the Operations department to remain aligned and focused? How can we showcase the significance of the OKR framework for the Operations function?
The successful adoption of OKRs in business creates a direct link between its strategy and its overall goals, mission, and purpose. Most often, employees working in the Operations vertical, fail to achieve the top-level goals, resulting in a lack of engagement and collaboration. The OKR methodology plays a crucial role by executing the right plan to bridge the gap and meet the intended outcomes to unlock success. This is one of the key pillars of the OKR framework- Alignment. For instance, the Operations team sets targets that must be accomplished by the end of a quarter. In addition to these targets, they also have a benchmark to ensure that they maintain a level of process excellence. This is a qualitative objective but has a deep impact on the targets as well. The OKR framework creates alignment, ensuring that everyone within the team is headed in the same direction, focusing on targets as well as benchmarks – all the while, meeting the company’s goal and vision. Even if employees self-review their OKRs on a weekly/monthly basis, they are aware where their supervisor or the company is heading and how they can contribute towards success.
The successful OKR framework implementation enables organizations to set the right focus and alignment, ensuring everyone moves in the same direction, articulates the right measures, and attain the right results.
Q: Most organizations aspire to be transparent. But with the OKR framework, both objectives and key results are shared across the organization. Is that a deterrent for organizations to adopt the OKR framework or the strength of the model?
Transparency is one of the OKR framework’s superpowers, but this depends on the organization’s culture whether the superpower is an added benefit or not. Several organizations set two versions of goals- one version is committed to the leadership and another version of goals are associated far and wide to the whole organization. We follow one specific direction that creates alignment throughout the system, driving innovation and a sense of competitiveness. Organizations that follow two, three, or even four versions of goals also exist, but they are not effective enough to achieve the results. More and more organizations are leveraging the transparency feature of the OKR framework. Though various legacy organizations still find it challenging to embrace transparency, it has served our clients and us great.
In today’s time, various organizations embrace the transparency feature of an OKR framework so that everyone knows their contribution in driving the company forward.
Q: Can you explain the role of OKRs in managing day-to-day operations?
There are essentially two parts- Goals and Initiatives. Goals identify what to do and initiatives define how to get the things done. Both aspects are critical for OKRs. For instance, the Delivery Head of Ops vertical is in conversation with a Client regarding the organizational structure and hiring of new talent to do successful business. Post this conversation, it becomes a weekly activity for the entire team to discuss the progress in terms of any change happening within the team, how many people are hired, and so on.
With the consistent focus on the right goal and alignment between the teams, OKRs enable organizations to measure the desired outcomes that ultimately drive the performance impact and unlock success.
Q: Does the OKR framework also help Operations teams with project management? If yes, how does it help to streamline the entire business process?
The OKR framework does not precisely help with project management. It does not help teams manage their tasks, but how to get the tasks done right. The fact that few organizations adopt OKRs for project management, they end up micromanaging their employees. So, organizations must adopt OKRs to set shared goals for everyone, align each employee to move in a unified direction, and yield the best possible outcomes. Ultimately, employees get a clear vision and purpose in meeting the company’s desired targets, resulting in better engagement and improved performance.
OKRs do not serve as a project management tool but helps to keep an eye on the targeted goals as well as the expected outcomes.
Q: Can you quote few OKR examples for Operations teams to highlight their shared set of objectives and key results attained on a quarterly/annual basis?
One of the OKR examples from my personal experience is to identify whether our teams are meeting their financial goals or getting to the targeted revenue. Are those teams skilled enough to generate profits for the company? As these are counted as everyone’s OKRs, each team member knows what they must contribute towards meeting the overall goal. The biggest challenge that many organizations face is that they spend around six months or so disputing the goal itself. With OKRs, defining goals become a matter of the first six or seven days of a quarter, keeping everyone aligned, focused, and motivated. After setting the goals, all you need is plan the action and then complete that action in each timeframe.
Another instance is where we needed to hire some good talent within the team. We utilized the OKR framework to ensure that the correct action was planned and executed, the focus was on the right things, and the talent recruitment team was also aligned and energized. By following the process, OKRs made sure that there was perfect synchronization between the business team as well as the talent acquisition team. From a business perspective, one thing can be more important than the other, which results in a lack of collaboration between the teams. OKRs created the right alignment towards the targeted goal, enabling teams to collaborate more, and accelerate performance.
The third instance that I can share is where the organization had planned to increase the sales capacity by the end of a quarter. The sales leader needed to build a strategic plan to drive their team’s performance, meet the company’s sales targets, and ultimately drive business ROIs. This was indeed an obvious and goal-driven conversation. Key results were planned in accordance to fill that capacity right off on the bench and we were able to achieve the target by never losing focus on the end-goal.
These are just one of the many instances of how the OKR framework brings clarity, creates alignment, focuses on what is more important, and sets actions to get the desired results.
Even during unprecedented times, what matters the most for every organization is setting effective goals and planning an agile action to achieve the outcomes. While some events and opportunities will push organizations to change their strategy, what eventually matters is the execution of strategy to achieve the desired goals. There must be clarity on this that our goal does not have the agility, but our actions have.
It is not enough that employees are meeting all their goals by the end of the quarter. It is more important that they are not wasting time and effort on things that do not align with the right goals. And that adds real value to the implementation of the OKR framework.
This is what Unlock:OKR also does. The powerful goal management and performance improvement tool enables organizations to create the right set of goals, funnel them down to the team members, and attain measurable results.