strategy executionDo companies with strong metrics culture need OKRs

Metrics and OKRs serve different purposes and complement each other in various ways.

Metrics are specific, measurable values that help organizations track their performance and progress towards specific goals. Metrics are typically used to evaluate performance and make data-driven decisions. They provide a clear understanding of what is being measured and how progress is being made.

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), on the other hand, are a goal-setting framework that provides a clear and specific structure for setting and tracking goals. OKRs help organizations align their efforts towards achieving specific and measurable objectives, and provide a clear understanding of what success looks like and how it will be achieved.

When used together, metrics and OKRs can provide a powerful toolkit for driving performance and growth. Metrics provide a clear understanding of what is being measured and how progress is being made, while OKRs provide a clear structure for setting and tracking goals. This can help organizations make data-driven decisions and align their efforts towards achieving specific and measurable objectives.

In summary, even if a company has a strong metrics culture, OKRs can still provide significant value by providing a clear structure for setting and tracking goals and aligning efforts towards achieving specific and measurable objectives.

OKR Grading

Grading in OKRs refers to the process of evaluating the progress made towards achieving the objectives and key results set in the OKRs. The grading process helps to determine the level of success achieved and provides feedback on areas that need improvement.

Here’s how to grade OKRs:

In general, OKRs are graded on a scale of 0-1, with 0.0 indicating no progress and 1.0 indicating full attainment of the objective. Grading provides a clear picture of progress and allows individuals and teams to focus on the areas where they need to improve.

It is important to note that the grading process should be a supportive and constructive feedback mechanism, rather than a source of stress or negativity. The focus should be on learning and continuous improvement, rather than on assigning blame or punishment for not achieving objectives.

OKRs can be graded at different frequencies, depending on the nature of the objectives and the goals of the organization. Here are two common approaches to grading OKRs:

End of cycle grading: OKRs are graded at the end of each quarter or half-year, after the set timeframe for achieving the objectives has passed. This approach is suitable for objectives that are long-term or have a significant impact on the organization and its operations.

Weekly or monthly grading: OKRs are graded on a regular basis, such as every week or every month. This approach is suitable for objectives that are more short-term or have a smaller impact on the organization. This approach provides more frequent feedback and allows individuals and teams to adjust their focus and priorities on an ongoing basis.

Ultimately, the frequency of grading should be determined by the nature of the objectives and the goals of the organization. Both end of cycle and frequent grading have their benefits, and the approach that is chosen should align with the overall strategy and goals of the organization.

Grading OKRs too often can lead to several problems, including:

In general, it is important to ensure that the grading process is supportive, constructive, and focused on continuous improvement, rather than on punishment or blame. This can be achieved by setting clear criteria for grading, involving employees in the grading process, and providing regular feedback and coaching to help individuals and teams achieve their goals

company vision, strategy and OKR

There is a strong linkage between a company’s vision and strategy and their OKRs. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are a tool used to align and drive progress towards a company’s overall vision and strategy.

Here’s how to create the linkage between a company’s vision and strategy and their OKRs:

By creating a clear linkage between a company’s vision and strategy and their OKRs, organizations can ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and that progress is being made towards achieving the overall vision and strategy.

Google has a company purpose of “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This purpose serves as the guiding principle for the company and informs their overall strategy.

Google’s OKRs are aligned with this purpose and focus on improving their products and services to better serve their customers. For example, one of their OKRs might be “Improve search results relevance by X% within the next quarter.” This objective is aligned with their company purpose of making information accessible and useful, and the key result (improvement in search results relevance) helps measure progress towards that goal.

Another example might be “Expand Google Maps coverage to X new countries within the next year.” This objective aligns with the company purpose of organizing information, and the key result (expansion of coverage to new countries) helps measure progress towards that goal.

By aligning their OKRs with their company purpose, Google is able to focus on the most important goals and objectives and ensure that everyone is working towards the same vision. This helps drive progress towards achieving their company purpose and ensures that their products and services continue to improve and meet the needs of their customers.


Here’s a general roadmap for implementing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) across an organization:

This roadmap should provide a general framework for implementing OKRs, but the specific timeline, approach, and details will vary depending on the size and complexity of the organization and the specific goals and objectives of the OKR implementation.

Hoshin Planning process, derived from Japanese policy deployment approach of Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment) has several salient features over conventional strategic planning process.

If you are accountable for organizing annual goal setting for your organization, it would be a good idea to learn about Hoshin Planning process.

Following are the top 7 salient features of Hoshin planning process:

Prioritization : Every organization, however big it is, works with limited resources – time, people and $$. One of the key reasons for derailment of business strategy execution is lack of prioritization at the time of creation of annual strategic plan. This is one such area where all organizations fail, immaterial of their size. Between the eagerness to achieve stretch goals and fear of not achieving them, most leaders compromise on the prioritization and end up doing everything. One of the fundamental principles of Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment) is prioritization. Some goals are more important than others, some strategies are more fruitful than others and some strategic projects create more impact as compared to others than created only trivial impact. So it is not possible to give equal priority to all goals, strategies and strategic initiatives. Thus Hoshin planning process forces the leadership team to prioritize organizational goals, strategies and strategic projects based on the parameters like organizational vision, internal and external environments and voice of customers.

‘De-selection’ : At the first sight, ‘Deselection’ might sound like the corollary of Prioritization. “Deselection” actually precedes prioritization. Hoshin Planning process encourages the leaders to deselect goals, strategies and strategic projects that aren’t important rather than selecting important ones. Thus ‘De-selection’ is the process of systematically eliminating or parking, goals, strategies and strategic projects that aren’t most important. In my experience most large organizations fail when it comes to deselection. They run too many strategic projects concurrently with gross overlap in scope by resources who are spread thin on various projects. These are clear indications that ‘deselection’ isn’t effective. The criteria for de-selection can vary. Usually following criteria work –

‘Must-do, can’t fail’ Attitude : Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment) approach emphasizes the organizational leaders to imbibe a ‘Must do, Can’t fail’ attitude when it comes to prioritized strategic projects. In spirit, it means that the organization believes that a ‘must do, can’t fail’ initiatve is critical for the success of the organization and hence the leaders need to do all it takes to make it successful because it failure directly impacts the organizational goals.

Joint Accountability : Hoshin process encourages sole ownership and joint accountability of the leadership team in deciding and achieving the goals. While individual leaders hold sole ownership of an organizational goal, the leadership team of the organization too holds joint accountability. ‘Catch-ball’ mechanism is a method adapted in Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment) approach to drive this joint accountability for goals. Again, this is one of the biggest areas where large enterprises fail.

Constructive Negotiation : Hoshin doesn’t encourage strong top-down approach. Instead it encourages leaders to negotiate goals, resources and ownership, both vertically and horizontally using ‘Catch-Ball’ mechanism. By doing so, leaders participate in their own goal setting rather than accepting goals given to them. Cross functional ownership of goals are also agreed in the similar manner. While this process does consume some extra time in finalizing the strategic plan, it brings in lot of clarity and acceptance among leaders.

Resource Optimization : Resources are very critical for the success of strategic plans. They can either be people, equipments, funds or other resources. But, in most organizations, its people who drive strategic plans. But when they are over utilized, it directly impacts the success rate of strategic initiatives and achievement of organizational goals. Embedded in Hoshin planning process is the resource allocation and optimal utilization to avoid failure due to skill mismatch or non-availability. There are inbuilt mechanisms that prevents a resource from being over utilized.

Integration of budgetary planning and performance management process : Hoshin planning process isn’t a stand-alone annual planning process. Organizations that have been successful with Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment) have integrated the budgetary planning and associate performance management process. The ensures that financial planning and associate incentives are aligned to organizational goals, strategies and strategic projects.

While there are few more features of Hoshin Planning process, the above 7 are compelling enough to pursue this approach if the organization wants to succeed in achieving its critical goals.

About the Author:

Nilakantasrinivasan aka Neil helps a range of large enterprises in services and manufacturing, with particular emphasis on execution of business & functional strategies using Hoshin Kanri(Policy Deployment). He can be contacted at

Kanri is the strategy execution process in the Japanese approach of Hoshin Kanri. To my knowledge, it is the only approach that seamlessly integrates strategy creation to its execution. Considering that this Japanese method has been in existence for 60~70 years now, it is interesting to know that originators of Hoshin Kanri have given equal (or even more) emphasis on strategy execution way back then. When you learn about the salient features of Kanri Strategy Execution Process, you will be able to appreciate this.

About the Author:

Nilakantasrinivasan aka Neil helps a range of large enterprises in services and manufacturing, with particular emphasis on execution of business & functional strategies using Hoshin Kanri. He can be contacted at

Team ‘Karma’ – First & most important step for your organization’s success in strategy execution

In cricket, a batsman in good form compensates for the runs missed by his partner. Let’s say in a situation where they need 26 runs to win in 2 overs. They don’t set individual targets such as 13 runs per person in 6 balls. Instead, one takes the lead and other does his best.

We observe similar phenomenon in many other sports and arts too. In a live theatre performance, when an artist forgets his scripts, co-artists make it up by altering their scripts instantly to make sure the message is conveyed and the show is successful.

I recently asked a team of senior management staff of an enterprise to write down the names of key team members. Their lists mostly contained names of their subordinates. No one from the senior management appeared in each other’s list.

So the CEO feels his direct reports are his team, but the direct reports don’t feel CEO as part of their team. Irony isn’t it!

Each member of the leadership team seems to have a feeling that they are representing their respective teams in Management Committee. So they are there to defend, protect, project, celebrate, complain and express the interests of their business unit (or department).

When I challenged them on their definition of team, some were confused and remaining reluctant. Perhaps such a transforming, yet simple thought cannot be accepted in a single go.

Some points to ponder as a leader of the senior leadership

These are all inconvenient questions to answer. But to gain some common understanding and move forward is very important for the senior leadership team because like individuals, teams have their Karmas too. They bear fruits of their actions and decisions. Individuals of the team ripe the fruits of their team’s actions or decisions – good or evil!

So if you are part of a team, you can’t say I don’t care about some decisions because they don’t impact me or my business. Sooner or later they will impact you. In simple words, the sense of ‘joint accountability & commitment’ of individuals to common organization goals is nothing but ‘Team Karma’.

Why does Team Karma matter more for senior leader than anyone else. A study concluded that

80 % of all organizations which have well defined strategies fail to execute them well!

Failure to execute strategies is Senior Leadership Team Karma, not the CEO’s!

A senior leader’s Team Karma in driving organizational strategies

Thus to create a sense of team belonging among the senior leaders, their Team Karma is the first and most important step for any organization’s success in strategy execution, immaterial of scale, line of business and geography.

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