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Forrester’s Margo Visitacion on OKRs and organizational alignment in a distributed world

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Margo Visitacion, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester.

As global businesses continue to navigate the realities of distributed work, many are rethinking their organizational goals to ensure alignment across teams and locations. We recently sat down with guest speaker Margo Visitacion, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester to discuss how businesses can set and achieve their most important goals following a recent webinar on OKR implementation and adoption. 

What are the challenges of implementing OKRs and what should organizations consider when implementing this framework? 

The most significant challenge is change management. Getting everyone on the same page so that they understand the OKR framework, how it pertains to them, their roles and accountability all require a dedicated effort to provide information, training and to factor feedback into the implementation.

The next most significant challenge is understanding the relationships of key results to objectives. If not clearly articulated, they can be confusing. It will take an organization several in-depth discussions to get them right. 

Third, is making them “live.” OKRs must be measured and discussed on a consistent, agreed upon basis. They can’t be written out manually and put in a drawer. This is why you really need the right set of tools to keep them visible and part of your day to day operations. 

Why is connecting OKRs/goals to the work important? How do you do that well?

Focus is the primary reason. Well-articulated objectives and key results with baselines and targets provide clarity to teams that helps them define what activities have to be done to achieve a measurable objective. It allows them to strip away unnecessary activities that distract from higher value work.

Second, it provides a clear vehicle for measuring progress and to assess when and if there needs to be a shift in prioritization of activities.

What trends and business challenges around goal management are top of mind for executives today? How can OKRs help drive business resilience and continuity?

Getting best value for cost. In these challenging times, leadership needs to ensure that they are providing optimum guidance to maintain productivity and to keep employees engaged. OKRs provide that transparency and guidance to have targeted conversations about what it takes to keep business rolling.

What are some tips for goal setting in a distributed setting? What does it look like, and how has it changed how we operate? What tools do leaders have at their disposal for goal setting in a distributed setting?

Use the technology wisely. Set up a workspace that asks for collaborative input on clarifying goals and objectives—that helps build quantifiable key results. Use the technology to time-box the exercise so that everyone stays on task and can take away a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. 

At first, tie OKRs to initiatives; that helps teams work together. The transparency that comes with OKRs helps to foster productive conversations, even if they are remote. 

Interested in learning more about implementing OKRs? Download the Asana Playbook to OKRs today

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