Training & Application

Based on our work with hundreds of global organizations, we at OKRsTraining.com are convinced that the success of your OKRs implementation is every bit as dependent on the human element as it is on the ability to create technically-sound and effective OKRs. Specifically, any organization hoping to derive the many benefits of OKRs will require an Executive Sponsor, OKRs Champion (or Champions depending on the size of the organization), and a cadre of OKRs Ambassadors scattered throughout the organization.

Let’s quickly take a look at each role. The Executive Sponsor defines success for the effort and provides the guiding rationale for why the company is using OKRs, and why now. That rallying cry is crucial to ensure everyone, from the receptionist to fellow C-Level executives, understands exactly why OKRs are being pursued given the circumstances the organization faces. The Champion is the philosophical and logistical heart of the program. As the organization’s subject matter expert, they are the go-to person for all matters OKR. Finally, Ambassadors coach and mentor others on creating effective OKRs, while also serving to enhance all-important buy-in and support for the implementation.

As part of their responsibilities, both the OKRs Champion(s) and Ambassadors will be required to review OKRs of others within the organization; offering input and recommendations to ensure all OKRs are effectively driving strategy execution. So how do we prepare people for these vital roles? Training is, of course, one element, and at OKRsTraining.com we provide comprehensive workshops to equip OKR Champions and Ambassadors with the requisite skills to effectively judge the efficacy of OKRs. But in conjunction with training (which is critical) there is another technique you can employ: Simply ask the Champion and Ambassadors to provide advice to others. Turns out, just providing advice can positively impact the skills of those offering the counsel to others.

Advice Is A Boomerang

Recent research conducted by Penn Psychology Professor Angela Duckworth, and her former student Lauren Eskreis-Winkler, suggests that in giving advice to others we discover insights and find motivation that can help us achieve our own goals.[i] This finding is very relevant to the work of Champions and Ambassadors. When we’re asked to provide advice to others we must think carefully and specifically about what we would do in a given situation. That intellectual workout will force us to draw upon our own reservoirs of skill and experience, ultimately packaging the advice in the form of concrete suggestions. In the case of OKRs, Champions and Ambassadors will draw upon the training provided and their own history to offer guidance to others.

Frequently, when providing advice, what we suggest to others is something that has worked for us in the past, and thus we’re confident it will work for them. This in turn increases our own confidence when we’re faced with a similar problem; in this case creating high-quality OKRs.

Additionally, providing advice can reduce cognitive dissonance    that uncomfortable feeling we get when our thoughts and beliefs aren’t consistent with our actions. This is particularly relevant to OKRs. Imagine an OKRs Champion or Ambassador providing this guidance to an associate:

“Your objective should always start with a verb, describe what you hope to accomplish, and end with a statement of why that is important to the business.”

The next time the Champion or an Ambassador taps the keys on their laptop to create their own OKR that advice will ring in their ears and they’ll be much more inclined to follow it themselves.

Giving advice alone is not a substitute for structured training. However, when used together the two can combine to drive powerful results.

Paul Niven is president and founder of OKRsTraining.com, the global leader in OKRs Training, OKRs Coaching, and OKRs Certification.

[i] Information on this topic is based on an e-mail newsletter from Katy Milkman (info@katymilkman.com) dated November 24, 2020