Jun 17, 2022

The OKR Agile Approach- Can OKRs be Agile?

Can OKRs & Agile Work Together?

The Agile and OKR frameworks work together to maintain focus and align end-goals with day-to-day execution. The OKRs shift the focus from measuring progress with working products to business outcomes. Learn more about these smart philosophies and how organizations can combine them to achieve maximum efficiency.

What is Agile Management?

Prominent in the software development world, Agile is an iterative approach to completing a project throughout its life cycle. The iterative procedures are incremental steps to promote speed and adaptability during the project. Agile aims to release benefits for people during the process, not only at the end. The Agile management philosophy supports collaboration and delivers maximum value with efficiency. Agile principles help to integrate planning with execution, allowing teams to develop a working mindset that helps them respond to constantly changing requirements. 

One of the most common Agile principles involves breaking a project requirement into bits. The team will then prioritize these smaller pieces in terms of importance. Another characteristic of Agile projects is that they keep learning and reflecting at intervals until the end-user is satisfied with the outcomes that provide benefits. In addition to that, the Agile framework makes the team focus on the solution to the problem they want to solve rather than comprehensive documentation. 

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a framework for setting and tracking goals with the main objective on outcomes. OKRs are used to map high-end, strong, and inspirational objectives. OKRs help maintain focus by sharing the strategic goals and empowering people by setting up actionable steps towards completing the vision. The main way to implement the OKR framework is by measuring, tracking, and evaluating the results of set goals properly. Studies show that teammates find it easier to work and achieve goals when they have a clear idea of the objectives the team is trying to achieve. 

When defining an OKR, the two important parts are the objectives and the key results. The objectives should be clear, concise, and appealing. On the other hand, the key results should have metrics to track them on a periodic basis. A very important point to note is that you should not confuse the actions taken for the key result. Instead, identify the measurable results that are the main indicators of your objective. 

OKRs and Agile development

Agile and OKRs work together to combine strategic success with operational efficiency. The Agile management process regularly evaluates core deliverables and makes changes based on the product’s scope. OKRs represent the key results we aim to achieve and set up the path for completing the vision. Both philosophies continuously align work to the company’s objectives, boosting employee engagement. 

Alignment with specific goals

While Agile aligns the work process, OKRs assist in sharing and achieving the team’s goals. The Agile approach aims to introduce meaningful principles, collaboration, iteration, and proactiveness into work. However, the OKR framework takes it a step further by bringing the goals to the attention of all teammates and achieving complete alignment through transparency. By sharing top objectives, you ensure that all teammates are aware of the organization’s values, collaborate better, and are more responsible for their work.

Goal setting and evaluation

An important aspect of the OKR framework is the regularity of their assessment through periodically scheduled evaluations. A common practice in most organizations is evaluating OKRs quarterly and high-end goals yearly, although it may vary based on the team’s needs. The Agile mindset aims to deliver working products by regular iterations and work towards efficiency. The OKRs take the same approach but for objectives. OKR enables agility in goal setting and timely evaluation by generating more strategic results and leaving room for iterations in an Agile environment.

Tracking progress and outcomes with OKRs

Furthermore, OKRs help Agile track progress when moving towards the goal by narrowing the focus and concentrating the team efforts towards specific objectives. Keeping the goals’ scope narrow and straightforward makes it easier to follow the set company path and measure results. 

Achieving agility with Agile and OKRs

To achieve agility with OKRs, you need to align shared goals, progress tracking, and transparency. A popular way to combine Agile and OKRs is by using the Kanban method. This method works by visualizing work, which improves efficiency and risk management in an organization. The Kanban principles can be useful in achieving agility with OKRs by sharing goals and transparency through visualization of the organization’s workflow. Another philosophy that works is managing the work but allowing people to self-organize around it. 

Conclusion

Understanding OKRs and implementing the framework into an Agile environment helps map, track and measure results smartly. By engaging teammates and aligning goals, applying the Agile and OKR philosophies enables business agility. 

Sunder Nookala

Sunder Nookala

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