OITO vs OKR
A big company asked me to help them to implement OKR. I tried to understand why they are looking for a goal-setting system? Based on my observations and interviews, I found the following objectives:
1- More focus on meaningful and valuable work
2- Better alignment in the entire company
We started this process with training, most of the guys were happy about learning new things. After training, in an iterative approach, we helped them to set their Objectives and Key results.
Now each team has 3–4 objectives and 3–4 key results assigned to objectives. Everything looked good and we knew there is room for improvement, for example, teams need to set ‘Value oriented’ key result or set personal OKRs … and they need time to practice it and we should let them try it and learn more … learning by doing.
I remember that our objective from using OKR was “More focus on meaningful and valuable work”. To validate this idea, I tried to ask from teams, “What a special thing that you want to achieve in 3 months?”. Their answer made me surprised “Yeah we have some projects and we need to finish them …. start X project too”.
It was my mistake. I told them, each team should have 3–4 objectives. So, they did it. We just need to have 3–4 objectives with some measurable key results. and mission has done :)
General or business-as-usual objectives:
1- Increase customer satisfaction
2- Increase technical quality
3- Improve team agility
The problem was that they have 3–4 general or business-as-usual OKRs, But most of the teams did not think that we need to have some big achievements and we need to work together as a team to reach it.
So I tried to help them to fix it. In one of my old clients, we had the term “OITO”, “One Important Thing Only”. What is your OITO? It means “What is your one important thing only in this quarter?”.
So, I did not want to use “OITO” in this company, “Hey guys, forget OKR and we want to use OITO”. But I tried to test it with one OKR for each team but a meaningful one. “Hey, you don’t need to convert your business as usual to OKR, You can do them in this quarter, But what is your one important thing only in this quarter?”
For testing this idea, We started with just one team that we think they don’t have so meaningful objectives. I designed a workshop based on “Celebration-5W” an so we invited all team members to a 2 hours workshop.
“Hey, welcome to our review meeting, We are going to do a different thing today. Let just forget your team objectives for 2 hours. ”
It’s some months from now, and you’re celebrating! Isn’t it wonderful to see everyone together like this? And you deserve it: over this period, you, your teams, and your entire organization have achieved far more than anyone would have thought possible.
What makes this celebration so special? We’re going to explore that via some time travel and the classic journalistic questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why, otherwise known as the five W’s.
“Let's create a celebration journal together”
Imagine… You’re celebrating!
- Celebrating meaningful accomplishments, objectives, goals
- Celebrating with everyone who helped make it happen: colleagues, suppliers, customers, …
- Reminding each other how you were stretched and why it was all worth it
You can use the following template for your journal or be creative and create your own:
What are you celebrating? (Key accomplishments, objectives, goals)
When are you celebrating? (The timeframe required for this significant challenge)
Who is celebrating with you? (Organisational scope/identity; others involved or supporting)
Why is this important? (The Why of the whole endeavor, not just the celebration)
So I think this is a great technique to think about meaningful accomplishments, objectives, goals. For my current client, I would like to review their OKRs to find their OITOs, and I think “Celebration-5W” can help us to do it.
I will share the next steps of OITO with you, How to convert it to projects and tasks, But I need your feedback about this, Please let me know is it valuable to continue or not.
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About the Author:
Asad Safari is an Enterprise Lean/Agile Coach. He has worked as an Agile coach for more than 7 years with several enterprises and startups. He has more than 14 years experience in the IT industry as a Software Developer, Tester, and finally an agile practitioner. You can follow Asad on Twitter and LinkedIn.