April 10, 2020 3 minutes read

OKRs Management During Coronavirus times

Objective and Key results – OKRs are so simple that it can be very difficult for an organization to adopt. Luckily, thanks to my discussions with Aabhinna, we were able to introduce OKRs in goals planning when Wizikey was just a 3-people team in 2019.

In our last 1 year of following OKRs, we have learnt a lot and of course, it still is tough to orient 30+ Wizards (Wizikey employees) that we have now. 

And then Coronavirus hit all of us. All the planning and management was gone for a toss. Along with my the core team, we were having discussions on how to survive the period – forget about planning OKRs.

However, after 2 weeks of remote working and managing chaos, we decided we needed to revisit OKRs. We decided to plan for 2 weeks and not even a month as things are changing so fast. There were dozens of questions that were lingering in our heads as we decided to plan OKRs for these turbulent times. 

Looking at my friends’ tweets and discussions, I realise that this is not just Wizikey’s problems but probably a lot of other businesses are going through.

This gave me the idea to go back to Matt at KOAN, who had helped me set up OKR last year. And Matt accepted to do the session as well. (Super fast response!)

Yesterday, we did the session with 10 businesses. Here is the recording of the session, that happened with Matt on managing OKRs with remote teams around coronavirus times. 

And these are my top learnings from the session as a founder of a startup

  • Be upfront and candidly discuss the situation
  • Cut fast and cut deeper than you think you need to – so that you have to do it once and not again and again so that you may preserve the culture
  • Best would be not to raise money immediately
  • Rather than trying to replicate the activities of setting up OKRs like the in-person meeting to Zoom calls, advisable would be to draft the objective and take feedback  -before you get on a virtual call to set up the OKRs 
  • During Virtual calls, the loudest voice happens to be the CEO, so sharing notes before the call is better
  • Remotely weekly reflections are important (one of the most essential features of Matt’s product: KOAN)

Steps recommended during crisis times like #Coronavirus

  1. Re-affirm the goals that are still prevalent  – do talk about the vision, mission and value that matters
  2. Closeout everything else – reduce the number of goals to the most important ones; fewer goals are important right now 
  3. Create new goals that address the crisis
  4. Relentlessly pursue simplicity and clarity 
  5. Build-in agility to support rapid changes  – (At Wizikey, we are setting up OKRs of 2 weeks from 6 weeks that we used to do before the Coronavirus outbreak) 

Some of the questions that were answered – and you may watch the video for answers:

  1. Linking or Not linking OKR with the Performance rating
  2. If the financial reward is not there, what is the reward for employees?
  3. How to avoid key results becoming To DOs
  4. How to manage OKR’s when a particular department  (70 people) is following OKR but rest of the company ( >10,000 people) are following normal quarterly reviews driven by KPI’s?

Books recommended during the session

If you have any questions, comments to share on managing OKRs, please let me know, and would love to discuss the same.

Some reference links by Matt to help you manage OKRs remotely –