Connecting OKRs in the organisation

How does it all fit together, creating focus and alignment? If we look at the previous examples, we can actually imagine that these are OKRs from the same organization. Let’s take a step back and imagine an organization that has the ambition to grow by acquiring new customers but also by building stronger relationships with existing ones.

At the organizational level, the goal could be set as “Significant growth with sustained profitability” and perhaps a goal like “Deepen and strengthen existing customer relationships” that is measured by metrics such as the number of repeat customers and customer satisfaction ratings.

A marketing team working towards these organizational goals could then have an objective like “Strengthen our customer relationships through events” to support the organization’s ambition of deeper customer relationships. Typically, the team would also have 1-3 additional objectives that further reinforce this objective but are also tied to the organization’s goals of growth and profitability.

The support team, looking at these organizational goals, may have a discussion about how to support the organization’s growth goals (can they work more on sales in the team?), but also goals like “Fast issue resolution” that are closely related to strengthening customer relationships and improving customer satisfaction ratings.

Transparency is a common thread throughout OKRs. This means that all objectives and key results are accessible to everyone in the organization, which is essential for collaboration between teams when setting their OKRs, but also to ensure that the organization’s overall strategy reaches the entire organization (through OKRs at the organizational level).

Direct and indirectly linked OKRs

When teams set their OKRs, it can look different depending on where they are in the organization. For example, a sales team can often easily translate the overall revenue goals and build their OKRs around them. This can be seen as a directly linked OKR, where the team’s results have a direct impact on the overall results.

But what about a finance function? Much of the work in a finance function can be process-oriented and may not be an area where direct connections to the company’s overall vision are very apparent. However, there is no reason why a finance function cannot be a strategic asset that supports the organization’s goals in more ways than just efficient processes.

Part of the magic of OKRs arises precisely here, in the discussion of how individual teams can support the overall success of the organization. These teams’ goals may not have a direct impact on a strategic key result (such as increasing sales) but instead have an indirect effect where they facilitate or otherwise support an overarching goal (such as advertising to increase brand awareness and, in the long run, drive sales).

With that perspective, one can imagine a multitude of outcomes from a finance function that supports our example organization above. Can they support customer relationships by building personal relationships with customers’ finance departments, mentioning new products in the footer of invoices, or assisting the sales organization in payment handling, to name a few.

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