What might be preventing you from adopting OKRs?

Dec 08, 2022
What might be preventing you from adopting OKRs?

Implementing a new policy, framework or methodology is not the easiest task, especially for well-established businesses or companies. Although challenging, a small company or new business may be more resilient to changes in organizational strategies and goal-setting frameworks. Therefore they may not face the same problems as a company already accustomed to a business model. A similar argument can be made for OKR, a robust goal-setting framework for organizations, businesses, and individuals. In this article, we will explore the barriers to implementing OKRs.

Why adopt OKRs?

OKRs stands for objective, Key results. It is a decision-making or goal-setting system adopted by top companies like Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Uber. 

OKR is the most preferred framework among the elite advantages over other frameworks for setting short-term goals. In summary, the OKR methodology is:

  • Is simple and flexible.
  • OKR promotes transparency and accountability.
  • It improves productivity and self-motivating.
  • It boosts creativity and resilience.
  • Promotes collaboration and teamwork.
  • Improve goals tracking and reporting systems.

To most CEOs, CHROs, team leads, business owners, and others in managerial positions, adopting OKRs is a no-brainer- however, they may encounter some obstacles (psychologically and financially) that may serve as barriers to its successful implementation. 

Good things don’t come cheap, but when we find them, they are worth fighting for. 

Let us look at some of these barriers and how you can overcome them.

What might be preventing you from adopting OKRs?

Resistance to change.

The previous modus operandi and the culture in your company may act as the first barrier to adopting OKR. Individuals are naturally resistant to sudden changes and new developments. In this case, your organization may have been using a different framework or one that takes a long time for goal execution.

Stretch goals.

Setting stretch goals is one of the core principles of OKR, and they are designed to be ambitious and challenging. One of the benefits of setting stretch goals is that it forces creativity and dramatically improves staff efficiency and productivity. Stretch goals may seem out of reach for many employees and discourage hard work and innovation.

Early failures.

Another barrier to implementing is the fear of failure or when managerial staff record failures and get discouraged at the end of an OKR cycle. While one shouldn’t plan for it, managers should anticipate setbacks and possible failures to achieve the stretch goals- and one shouldn’t let the fear of failure stop one from implementing a better goal-setting and management system.

No starting point.

One of the problems new companies face is setting relevant goals and objectives, especially when there is no initial metric to compare with -After all, you need a starting point in mind to reach the desired target.

How can you overcome the barriers that may prevent you from adopting OKRs?

Resistance to change may be the biggest challenge faced by companies implementing a superior goal mag. A simple solution to this is persistence, education, and training. 

Persistence and time let workers/employees get accustomed to a new system while educating and training them to reiterate the importance of OKR and improve skill and proficiency.

In the early stages of OKRs implementation, enterprises and businesses may fail to reach set objectives due to setting unrealistic goals or low drive or productivity from staff. In this case, managers should take a step back and learn from their mistakes. Going forward, you can adjust your objectives (on a team or departmental level, reducing or increasing intensity as appropriate. An acceptable outcome is to achieve 70-80% of stretch goals. On the other hand, 100% may indicate that the objectives are not challenging enough.

As mentioned above, stretch goals may be challenging for staff due to their demands and how much it pushes creativity. However, this is a good thing in the long run. While you can’t expect a miraculous turnover after the first OKR cycle, your organization will no doubt experience growth and become more resilient. 

Companies without a definitive baseline value for goal setting should research industry standards and set objectives appropriately. Another way to do this is to assess the market environment and long-term vision to enable them to set smart short-term goals.


Change is inevitable but doesn’t come easy. When implementing a game changer such as OKR, managers and top executives must be aware of potential factors that may prevent them from successfully implementing the framework. CHROs must be persistent, as flexible as the OKR system, ingenious, and learn from mistakes. 

Possessing these qualities and imbibing them in the culture of the workplace will guarantee outstanding victory.

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