Public meeting / OKR / Individual OKRs - exploring the challenges of adapting individual goal plans


  • Reference meeting: "a05-890 — talk — Individual OKRs - exploring the challenges of adapting individual goal plans 9f7319e5-44ef-4443-90f6-7d542c4b496c Tuesday, December 31⋅1:00 – 1:30pm
  • Parent project: Course OKR and culture / "index: talk: okr e2662d0f-9209-40b9-be2f-93c1514ef419"
  • Participants: Marcio S Galli
  • Text language: en-us
  • Tags: OKR, Goals, Communication, Feedback, Planning, Reviews, Peer Alignment, 1:1, Objectives and key results
  • Document status: Copyright, draft.

The act of externalizing an individual goal plan

Let's imagine that an individual externalizes a document, in an attempt to improve transparency, enabling a shared debate, about her individual goal planning. Normally, such activity would demand a lot of energy, and time, because anything related to an individual in a company will impact and be impacted by interaction with other teams and divisions. You may well imagine that your plan will be based on your interests plus checks with other goals from peers, managers, team, division, and company level. But then, the week starts and all is changed, and your goal plan is obsolete. Worse is when you start to adapt your goal document, sort of becoming an update based in the dynamic nature of reality — like your goal plan is a shadow of the randomness of what happens.

From an ideal standpoint, let's think of individual OKR, involving the concept of sharing a goal planning effort, with yourself, and with your manager — of course the manager can be thought as an external entity that may represent more goals. Depending on how you externalize, your plan could be constructed with more direct input from others. For such a planning to be healthy, it would involve the notion of creating a "work in progress zone", exactly because it's impossible to have all things planned as we work with teams that are learning, specially working with companies that produces innovation.

Is it possible to have shared intermediary plans?

Perhaps the right approach would involve creating a feedback system that can be the opportunity to decrease eventual tension that could end up creating ruptures in the interaction and communication processes along the roadmap. The idea of ruptures here is perhaps related to the idea of cognitive dissonance. When, for example, a person is doing something and thinking in something else; when a person feels that is inappropriate to speak honestly what she thinks. When a person planned certain things to be done and is doing another thing in reality.

The proposed exercise is exactly about allowing each individual to be comfortable in externalizing their personal interpretations, and, at the same time, comfortable in asking reviews from others. To give an example of the difficulty involved, one individual contributor may have a great deal of energy and inspiration — she may arrive at a new insight based on prior events, and developed a viewpoint for new activities to be taken, affecting her personal plan, goals, and roadmap. But in reality, she does not have the time to develop the right level of understanding to this supposedly new plan of action, to articulate things in the best way, in the present; to properly check against all the changing environment, a review in a way that she gets support from her peer or manager.

Nevertheless, she does her homework — she externalizes her “version 0.1” and this one includes what she feels, her worries, her insights. At this stage, she is certainly pressured by constraints — she certainly is failing to produce a quality or polished deliverable that would serve as a deed, what would be a quality contract-plan that connects her with peer goals, team goals, org goals, and company wide goals.

What principles could protect an individual to get her plan more stable and healthy?

If transparency-first is an appreciated principle, a zone of protection is nurtured to protect the goal planning work that involves course correcting based on feedback from others. The sooner she develops and seeks feedback, the sooner she iterates with others and reduces surprises. This is likely to happen if others are also in the same situation — iterating, learning, and trusting themselves to course correct. This improved interaction should also engage peers beyond the vertical structure (such as the manager) and expand in the horizontal direction, towards direct peers and indirect collaborators. The idea is to allow room for collaboration — people can chime in to help her to improve many aspects of the goal plan: interpretation, wording, new statements regarding expectations and aimed outcomes.

When reading this you are probably thinking that there is nothing new here — this is the way things happens at many organizations. People talk and they align. But here I am trying to consider, exactly, the interaction or tension between what was planned and what is being realigned as the communication starts to flow.

Perhaps individual OKR is very difficult at companies exactly because individual plans become static once whey are agreed with their managers. And as the week goes by, and the person is doing her job, reality differs from the plan. By 7 to 15 days, things are too different. Then again, the person tries to write again, as in catching up with the reality, but it fails again. Thus, the individual level OKR keeps following the shadow of changes driven by division or team OKR.

Marcio é um empreendedor com interesse em inovação, empreendedorismo, cultura e gestão. Formado em ciências da computação, Marcio fez seu estágio de graduação no Vale do Silício em uma das empresas que marcaram a história da Internet (Netscape Communications). Posteriormente mudou-se para o Vale do Silício trabalhando para Netscape / America Online, Yahoo! e posteriormente ao voltar ao Brasil, para a Mozilla Corporation (criadores do navegador Firefox). Antes de se tornar empreendedor e consultor, Marcio pôde colaborar com vários departamentos como marketing, inovação, engenharia e em times de documentação e evangelismo. Se tornou autor de patentes internacionais e gosta de estudar e escrever para os futuros empreendedores e gestores. Marcio é apaixonado por comunicação, negócios, tecnologia e cultura. Alguns dos seus livros preferidos são High Output Management, Conscious Business, The Hard Things about Hard Things, Maslow on Management, The Startup of You, The Alliance, Zero to One, dentre outros.

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