3 key problems (and 1 non-problem) I see when attempting OKRs

Problem #1: Alignment to nonsense

The first issue is Alignment to Nonsense. What data and rationale led to the Objective you’re setting, never mind how to achieve it?

Problem #2: Lack of actual alignment

The second issue is Lack of Actual Alignment. This is the use of OKRs to create a “cooperative social contract”, that is, I can trust what you will do and you can trust what I will do, so that we can reliably and efficiently produce complicated, coordinated shared outcomes.

Problem #3: Not considering multiple horizons

The last issue is Lack of Multi-Horizon Planning. A quarter is typically too short of a horizon for long-term planning and is typically too long of a horizon for medium-term planning.

Not typically a problem: Lack of ambition

I don’t see the encouraging ambition issue that is typically emphasised with OKRs as a major one. Granted, this does depend on the specific context we’re looking at.



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Jason Yip

Jason Yip


Staff Agile Coach at Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl