OKR Debrief - What we Learned 18 Months Into Using Objective & Key Results

September 5, 2023

At first glance, the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) system looked like an opportunity to bring our organization together in pursuit of common goals.  More than that, OKRs provided us with a method to break down large, lofty goals into bite-sized, more accessible milestones. 

18 months ago and looking ahead, we knew that our team was quickly becoming infinitely more complex; more people, over a wide area (across Canada), with increasingly specialized roles. We both welcomed and feared that natural evolution. We feared a siloing of information as the scope of activities grew and, on an individual basis, people became increasingly more focused on their respective areas. OKRs became a way to manage those fears and this holds true to date. As potent as the OKR framework can be, unlocking the full potential of OKRs for our team is… a process. 

We do not believe that there is a perfect recipe for all organizations but the core principles of the OKR system are simple. We recommend that you take a look at Whatmatters.com or in the book Measure What Matters by John Doerr - Both are excellent and easy to navigate.

The process of building the MIMOSA OKR recipe has been a journey but one that pays for itself. The benefits we’ve derived from our adoption thus far are numerous but I wanted to outline two. 

1. Direction:

Startups can be hectic and it’s easy to get swept up in the chaos of it all. For us, at a company and a functional level, OKRs have provided us with a framework and discipline to stop and think about our desired destination. The power of having a defined destination allows you to navigate the chaos, separate the distractions from the opportunities - It allows you to stay focused on what is truly important.

2. Plan & Execution:

With your destination defined, the next logical step is figuring out how to get there; A plan. The OKR framework helps structure the planning process. Often the defined destination becomes the Objective, and major, measurable, milestones in pursuit of that Objective are captured in the Key Results. Plans usually come together easily but taking the time to make sure that your plan is aligned with larger goals takes a little more effort. Ultimately, that extra effort ensures that your team is pursuing meaningful progress.

With a plan in place and key milestones established, the team knows what needs to be done but how and where do you start? Scrutinizing the answer to this final question is what has made the difference for MIMOSA; It is what allows us not only to execute but deliver.

While our team at MIMOSA has taken great strides in implementing the OKR system, there is still a long way to go before we perfect our OKR recipe. The OKR system, like many other management philosophies/systems, is a tool and no tool is omnicompetent. Taking the time to understand the tool, how it works or how it can work for you will pay dividends.