Managing OKRs with Goalscape

Click here to download the Goalscape OKR Playchart as a PDF

Goalscape is a smart OKR software tool that increases motivation and engagement

Managing teams with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has become really popular all over the world – especially since Google’s stellar ascent, attributed partly to the company adopting the OKR process in its early startup days. The ideas behind it go back more than 70 years though: it’s the best way to manage knowledge workers, for whom top-down commands and repetitive routines are inappropriate and ineffective.

The simplicity of the OKR process is what makes it so successful. Essentially it’s a great way to apply helpful disciplines, and introduce, manage and evolve new goals.

The key OKR terms and the corresponding elements in Goalscape are:

Objectives are big Fuzzy Goals

Objectives are (usually long-term) goals that can be somewhat general and fuzzy. It’s good to have these because they can These are goals that can be somewhat general and fuzzy. It’s good to have these because they can serve as motivatingnorth stars‘: they inspire people and give them direction. The number of such goals depends on the main goal (at the center of the Goalscape goal map) – to maintain focus there should be no more than 10. Objectives are positioned at Level 1 of the goal map.

Key Results are smaller Concrete Goals

Key results are much more specific goals that can be qualified and quantified accurately. They are typically positioned at Level 2 of the goalscape goal map; they do not have to be direct subgoals of the somewhat fuzzy Objectives though. If you have subgoals of increasing specificity (which may not qualify as Key Results), you can slot them into your goalscape in between the Objectives and Key Results. So your Key Results could end up on level 3 or 4 (or even lower). Goalscape is much more flexible here compared to other OKR software tools.

Differentiate between Committed and Aspirational Goals

There is a big difference between committed and aspirational goals. Committed Goals are goals that must be achieved just to keep a project (or the whole business) going. Aspirational goals, on the other hand, are goals that may create new opportunities, yet if they are not achieved nothing really bad happens. It’s a very useful distinction to make when you prioritize your goals.

In Goalscape you can also apply the Tags “Committed” or “Aspirational”, then use the Focus filter to see the different sets of goals.

Timeboxing

This is a crucial element of the OKR process. You can use any time period; the most popular though is to break down the year into 4 quarters. We currently favor quarterly plans, because a time horizon of a few weeks is more gratifying and allows for more flexibility in adapting the plan. In more settled businesses, annual plans may be more fitting. In Goalscape you can use Due Dates to define shorter timeboxes. It is essential to review and update your progress frequently (at least once a week) – and always remember to celebrate the wins with your team.

Confidence (to achieve a key result/goal)

Asking people how confident they are about achieving a goal, in a given Timebox, is a very efficient way for a team to understand what’s going on. By contrast, when we ask someone “how are things going?”, we are likely to be inundated with detailed descriptions of everything that person is doing. And a million words may not be enough to reflect the current reality faithfully! These details only really matter though if things go sour (and you can do something about it). So in goal setting sessions and periodic reviews, we ask for a confidence estimate, using numbers between 0 and 10 (10 being ‘absolutely certain and 0 being ‘it’s impossible’. This keeps our interactions short and to the point.

In initial Quarterly planning, committed goals should be on the high end of the confidence scale, while aspirational goals can be fairly low. A mid-range confidence can be considered a good start for something ambitious. The confidence should be updated every week. In the third month of the quarter, mid range values should be avoided: at this point goals should be either in the green zone (likely to be achieved) or the red zone (unlikely). Then for any goal in the red zone you can decide whether to throw more resources at it, or park or delete that goal and spend the effort elsewhere.

The Confidence scale looks like this:

Low 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 High

You can also use this scale to see if a trend becomes apparent in the weekly updates. We simply note down the trend in the top of the Notes field (at least on the committed goals) like this:

Confidence: 5 > 6 > 7 > 7 > 9

In this example, the trend over the first 5 weeks of the quarter is positive and all is looking good. In the following example, the goal would require some extra attention (or be deferred or abandoned).

Confidence: 5 > 6 > 4 > 2

Focus

Never before has humanity been as easily distracted as today. We can lament that, or we can take it as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. Deciding what to do right now is becoming one of the key success skills of our time. Our team always tries to invest enough time to carefully decide what to do NOW and what to do NEXT, then tag their goals accordingly. Once NOW goals are achieved, the priorities of the NEXT goals are re-evaluated, and one or more of them (maximum 3) given the NOW tag.

The Goalscape Focus filter (top left of the screen) makes it really easy to filter for NOW and NEXT goals (including selecting by person Responsible) and to view and export a corresponding Goal List (goals that match your selections).

Summary – How to setup OKRs in Goalscape

The basic setup of OKRs in Goalscape is really simple:

  1. Define Objectives and Key Results in Goalscape. Optionally tag goals as “Committed” (must achieve) or “Aspirational (want to achieve).
  1. Place the Central Goal of your enterprise, project or department in the Core of the Goalscape. Make it inspiring!
  2. Identify about 3-5 Objectives or Subgoals that contribute to your Core Goal. You may add additional Subgoals at the next levels.
  3. The outer layer of Subgoals should represent specific Key Results or tasks that have a measurable degree of achievement. 
  4. Prioritize between your different Subgoals and visualize their relative importance by adjusting their size. Carefully use due dates to enhance work focus.
  5. Make sure someone is assigned as responsible in each goal and add supporters where required.
  6. Now go ahead and let your Goals drive you!! You can filter for tags etc. but dont`t forget to regularly get back to the Big Picture…
  7. Hold regular team discussions to review progress, adjust priorities, reassess confidence level and agree actions. Consider effective work with FAST Goals! (FAST: Frequently discussed, Ambitious, Specific, Transparentexplained below)
  8. Frequently discuss your Goals, Objectives and Key Results to adapt to evolving. situations. Set Goals for weeks, months, years or an Olympiad… Follow your Goals and thrive!

Here is an example of what an OKR quarterly plan looks like in Goalscape:

Schematic OKR Goalscape

A Focus view with the list displayed (bottom left of screen) looks like this:

Focus on Goals by person. Filter by tag Now or Next to see what’s going on and what’s coming.

To open this project, just log in to the new Goalscape Web App (goalscape.app) and then click this link or paste the link https://goalscape.app/#/templates/okr-goals-q1-2022 into the address bar of your webbrowser.

OKR FAQ:

What is OKR?

The acronym OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. OKR is an agile leadership method and goal setting framework to define goals, strategies and measures and track their outcomes. Originally developed by Intel and adopted by global players like Google, Oracle, Twitter, LinkedIn or Apple, the OKR approach is not fundamentally new, but has gained tremendous importance with today’s challenges such as business transformations, digitization, change management and spread workforces.

What makes OKR so valuable for business success?

Many companies, managers and team leaders struggle with the challenges of how to anchor corporate goals in projects and their daily business. OKR is a well-proven and agile method that helps individuals, teams and businesses to align process landscapes with operational and strategic goals.

Implementation of OKR – what to look out for when setting objectives and key results?

When implementing OKR, organizations are explicitly encouraged to set ambitious goals. Key results and targets that are not achieved are not sanctioned, instead they serve as the base for defining future OKRs. Many successful organizations, such as Google, share OKRs publicly across teams and departments in order to make business decisions comprehensive and to reveal how the work of teams and members contributes to the company’s goals. With Goalscape, companies not only have a convenient and easy to use tool at hand to implement OKR´s, but also a perfect framework to set, map, track progress and share OKRs across teams and departments.

Marcus Baur

Marcus Baur

Marcus is the inventor of the Goalscape concept. After graduating in Architecture he sailed professionally, winning multiple international championships and becoming a double Olympian.

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