Collaboration, Digitization

Five OKR Risks and How to Counter Them

Patrick Jörg10/19/2020

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is an agile management method increasingly used for team leadership. The success of the agile approach is beyond doubt: instead of executives setting goals for employees, goals are developed together as a team, which has a positive effect on employee motivation and productivity. However, this kind of goal-setting is not for lone wolves. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the risks of this method before implementing it. In particular, the following points about OKR should be noted:

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•    OKR calls for a certain maturity in terms of corporate culture. Companies that are “blue” in terms of Spiral Dynamics will hardly manage to set autonomous goals, as values such as hierarchical obedience and authoritarian leadership are highly valued in such organizations. You therefore need to deal with your corporate culture. At COSMO CONSULT we use the 9 Levels Spiral Dynamics based tool to measure and develop our corporate culture. 

•    Intensive training is needed to ensure that your employees better understand the OKR methodology. If you decide to implement OKR, it is best to budget for a training effort of 3 days for all employees.

•    Targets should be realistic. If they are too ambitious, employees can quickly become frustrated. So do not set unrealistic goals. After a few OKR cycles, the achievement of objectives usually improves automatically. 

•    Goal setting (Planning), goal measurement (Review) and process improvement (Retro) are time-consuming. They are nevertheless vital for an OKR process to work properly. Reckon on three to five hours per employee per month for this. 

•    OKR requires continuous monitoring. Self-set goals can only be achieved if they are followed up in regular coordination sessions. It is advisable to delegate control to the employees on their own responsibility. Our Digital Team Management Approach helps you to bring the challenges of cross-location teamwork in line.


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Introducing OKR undoubtedly involves a high training effort and ties up many resources, especially in the initial phase. Risks should always be kept in mind to exploit the full potential of this methodology. It is equally important that the corporate culture is suited to using OKRs. If the points described above are taken into account though, OKR is a really effective method for jointly designing and pursuing corporate goals.

Our continuation webinar "How to Lead Your Teams Innovatively and Digitally in the Age of New Work" on October 22, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. will focus on digital team management and agile project work. 

Of course, we are always available to you for a personal discussion. Just send us an email or give us a call. Our digitalization experts look forward to discussing your digital ideas with you. 

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Patrick Jörg
Digital Business Consultant | COSMO CONSULT