Wednesday 19 July 2023

Data-Driven OKR Success 

Power BI and lessons from Google

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are appealing to any company wanting to focus their people on achieving meaningful objectives. However, not everyone who sets out to implement OKRs does so effectively. As one of the original OKR success stories, Google abounds with insightful lessons, including that OKRs are driven by data.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for objectives and key results: the objective being the big, aspirational thing to be achieved, and key results being the measurable steppingstones to get there. 

One of the most famous objectives ever set was by John F Kennedy:

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." 

As big, hairy, audacious goals go, this was right up there. Kennedy made his speech in May 1961, putting NASA behind schedule before they got started. But NASA defined their key results in a specific, measurable, and time bound way. They put data at the heart of every step, analysing every success and failure to provide the understanding they needed to progress. In 1969, with the world watching, Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon, before being returned safely to earth. 

Not all objectives are as huge as putting a man on the moon, but using data to measure success and failure, is relevant to any goal.

OKRs at Google

In his book, "Measure What Matters," John Doerr explains the OKR system, and how he introduced it to Google. There was already a data culture at Google, so OKRs made a lot of sense to them. What OKRs added, was a framework to enhance Google’s performance.

Data Isn’t Useful without Communication

Data, analysis, and effective communication lie at the heart of successful OKRs. Merely setting an objective isn’t enough; leaders need reliable data and a robust way to communicate it. Otherwise, there’s no ability to learn from failure, and no motivation to improve. 

And as remote work becomes more prevalent, creating a culture of improvement becomes even more important. Rigorous and intentional data-driven communication becomes essential, as John Doerr points out.

Leveraging Microsoft Power BI

Fortunately, modern data technologies make data management easier. Microsoft Power BI, with its ability to connect to various data sources and powerful visuals, helps leaders monitor and communicate key results efficiently. Its versatility makes it suitable for addressing both simple and complex problems. The fact that Power BI Desktop is freely downloadable empowers leaders with a tool that can kickstart their data journey. While it might not mark the end of their data exploration, it allows proof of concept projects to get everyone started. 

Empowering More Leaders

The success of OKRs at Google demonstrates that data is an integral part of the OKR system. By harnessing the power of data and effective communication, companies can unlock their full potential. Microsoft Power BI offers a robust solution to support this process, as well as being accessible to a broader range of leaders.

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