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Discussion on: Hate OKRs? Avoid these 7 mistakes

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sarahgoffdupont profile image
Sarah Goff-Dupont Author

Hey Sam, thanks for reading!

You're not far off the mark. But it's more like the objectives cascade into sub-objectives – not that one person's KRs become their direct reports' Os.

We start with company-wide focus areas set out by our C-suite (tho they crowdsource ideas from all levels and departments). From there, it's up to each department, team, and individual to decide how they can contribute to those focus areas. So you'll see department-wide OKRs, then team-level OKRs stemming from that with individuals owning or co-owning the key results. For example: I'm in corporate marketing and one of our Os is to make Atlassian known as a company that knows about effective teamwork. So an O that I'm running hard at is to spread the word about our Team Playbook microsite (shameless plug! 😉), which will contribute to that larger goal.

I hope that makes sense. If not, fire back with more questions and I'll be happy to clarify.

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sambenskin profile image
Sam Benskin

Thanks for the reply Sarah. I think that's raised more questions :) where do sub objectives fit into the picture? I was following the example of the American football team which is frequently given (see slideshare.net/mobile/jaymeh13/obj...) but I've yet to see anyone follow it directly. It made sense to me that KRs became the Os of their direct reports. The owner of the football team had an objective to make money for the owners and one KR was to win the Superbowl, which became the objective of the head coach, and their KR became the objective of the offensive coach, etc. This seemed like the right approach to me to ensure all the okrs ultimately align with the company's strategic vision. Does that make sense?

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sarahgoffdupont profile image
Sarah Goff-Dupont Author

That's a perfectly good way to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction. It's just a bit more prescriptive than how we formulate our OKRs here.

Maybe the difference is rooted in the fact that we try hard to make sure our Os are pretty high-level and not easily measured. (Winning the Super Bowl is a measurable result, so we'd gravitate toward keeping that in the KR column.)

So, if Atlassian were that football team, the coach's Os would be more like "Build a team with world-class talent" – which certainly contributes to winning the Super Bowl. The coach may also have co-owned the "win the Super Bowl" KR with the owner.

We're probably wandering into the realm of subtle-but-thrilling differences here 😉 The main thing is to make sure OKRs are aligned at all levels. And you can do that in whatever way makes sense for you.

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sambenskin profile image
Sam Benskin

Great, thanks Sarah. Good luck with them :)