Improve your OKR Check-in with these tips and our template
Many companies associate OKRs with defining ambitious goals for a short timeframe. However, there is so much more to the concept of OKRs.
OKRs are built around a cyclical model that isn't limited to the work of a single team. The OKR Cycle links the work of individuals and teams to create an integrated model of work that provides iterative learning opportunities for the whole organization.
One crucial part of this iterative process are the OKR Check-Ins.
These Check-Ins allow teams and the whole organization to track progress
on a regular (e.g. weekly) basis to adapt tactics as needed and remove first impediments along the way.
The goals of the OKR Check-In are as follows:
Below you will find six steps to effectively design and work through your OKR Check-Ins.
OKR Check-Ins - Foundations:
The OKR Check-Ins does not have to be a stand-alone meeting, but can be integrated for example as the no. 1 agenda topic of a regular team or management meeting processes - no matter if it is a traditional team meeting or a Scrum sprint planning. Many teams also find it useful to combine the Check-In with an activity planning afterwards to gain clarity of all the next steps and directly work with the results from the Check-In.
Timebox for an OKR Check-In: 15 minutes plus
If no divergent opinions or impediment perceptions come up, a Check-In with 1-3 OKR Sets can be done in 15 minutes. If a team is relatively new to the process or substantial disagreements arise, more time or even a separate meeting block might be necessary.
Step 1: Setting the scene
An effective OKR Check-in requires preparation and focus on progress and activity planning.
Ideally, all necessary data is prepared upfront and shared. It is important that all thoughts are raised, especially concerns and open questions from team members since this is valuable input and ensures a common understanding in the group.
Step 2: Looking back to evaluate the current situation
Understanding the current situation and creating a starting point for objective discussions can start by walking through a (pre-filled) status overview of all Key Results (KR). The KR status can be evaluated by an absolute number (like 1 out of 4) and / or the relative progress (25% achievement).
Step 3: Looking forward to estimating the end state
After reflecting on where you are right now, take a look into the future and estimate the possible result of the OKR Set - based on the knowledge of today. The more the estimations among team members differ, the higher the need for communication and investigation.
Step 4: Adjusting and planning
Discuss the results with your team and use them as a foundation to define and adapt the next priorities and activities for the upcoming week(s). If completely new topics occur, an extra task planning meeting might be necessary.
Step 5: Check other relevant metrics (optional)
There might be other relevant metrics that are important for organizational health and success that are not included in the KRs – but worth keeping an eye on. These, often called “health metrics”, can be company-wide or team specific metrics and include something like team engagement, revenue pipe or customer ratings.
Step 6: Remove impediments
The insights shared and discussions happening in an OKR Check-In are a great source for possible impediments on the way towards achieving the set goals.
It is important to note that moving the item “OKR Check-In” to done is easy, whereas gaining valuable insights without too much extra effort while having all engaged in the process is not. The above tips are designed to help facilitate effective OKR Check-Ins in a way that improves the overall OKR experience.
More resources from OKRs AT THE CENTER (OKR Definition Workshop Guide, OKR System Design Template and much more) can be found here.
This guide is based on the OKR Check-In Guide (CC BY-SA Sonja Mewes und Natalija Hellesoe).
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