Rocksoft

OKRs in one of Rocksoft client's projects

OKRs in one of Rocksoft client's projects

This week we have a traditional quarterly "Get together" session in one of our projects, during which we focus on the most important goals in the client's project. The methodology we use is "Objectives and Key results" (OKRs). The inspiration for this approach was, of course, John Doerr - an engineer, investor (e.g. Google, Amazon), but also the author of the world bestseller "Measure What Matters". The book, based on numerous examples, mainly from the IT world, describes an aggressive and conscious approach to setting goals and achieving them. More information can be found at the source, for example here.

This time, the challenge is extremely difficult because we've always been able to meet live, either here in Ustroń or at the client's headquarters in Oslo. As a result, intensive days at work could end with joint city tours in the evenings or just spending time together, not necessarily in the office and on work-related topics. Coronavirus is cruel to all of us, so we had to put a lot of energy into preparing online sessions. Two tools played a key role here - Zoom and Miro. The former is probably most known, the latter maybe not, but we recommend both! But let's get to the point.

As I was preparing for the effective brainstorming and refreshing my principles of creating such objectives and key results to make them as likely to be achieved as possible, I had the impression that all these exemplary OKRs are very "cute". Cute is probably a bad term... I mean, they're like taken from idealised situations or are so perfectly dependent on all levels in the organisation that they actually fit like a glove. But our projects with this client aren't that easy. It's probably our 4th approach and something was always going wrong, so there was always a certain frustration or just a disappointment that we are not yet able to use the system as we would like to.

OKRs are basically great and work fantastically if only really reflect our priorities. Not the kind of priorities we would theoretically like to have (but always something will prevent us from doing so), but just the real ones. The main criticisms we have made so far in retrospective sessions were, for example, that we were too ambitious in our approach to a given goal, which quickly proved to be beyond our reach. Besides that, our problem is that we are not yet able to react adequately to sudden changes going "from above". They are happening everywhere, but only those who have implemented the OKRs methodology in the best possible way are able to continue to use it in out-of-bounds situations. We can now see very clearly that theoretical knowledge in this type of matters can and is important, but experiencing certain situations on one's own skin can give incomparably greater results if one can draw conclusions and learn on your mistakes. That's what we're trying to do. Keep your fingers crossed!

Something that motivates us to continue discovering this methodology, is the fact that we are getting better with every quarter. With the naked eye (but also on the basis of measurable key results) we see that the baggage of experiences in combination with a fresh dose of inspiration, makes us create better and better quality goals. Ambitious goals, but also achievable as soon as we engage our energy and we use our skills, focusing on their realisation.

Below are some examples of our OKRs - not yet final, but setting the direction in which we want to go in our projects. 

Objective: React on failures before users notice by
KR: Improving MTTR (Mean Time To Restore) to 1h
– KR: Getting SLA to 99.95%
– KR: Fixing 5 most common failures based on App Insights

Objective: Build a reliable engineering team by
– KR: Decreasing failure rate by 80%
KR: Improving Lead Time by 50%
KR: Delivering 5 PoCs of inspiring solutions to the stakeholders

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Oskar Pilch
@osk_are