OKRs: not just for January

by Gill Arnott | Jan 30, 2020

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Ah, January, the month of change. As we go into February, how are your New Years’ resolutions going?  Are they dead and buried, or are you still trying to push a square peg through a round hole?  Only 12% of us will actually stick to our resolutions by the end of the year (Professor Richard Wiseman: University of Hertfordshire)- and there’s a reason.

So, when good intentions were the words on everyone’s lips, why do our goals fail by February? New year, same old nonsense. Why are we so fixated on January? Just as the cold and dark at the start of the year gets the better of our ambitious fitness goals, organisations lose focus too. 

Mindless, unfocused, shelved pieces of to-do and wish lists will get forgotten before the inks’ dried. What point am I making? Well January, quite frankly, doesn’t make a bloody difference. It’s not about when you start your journey, it’s about how well you keep to your planned route. It’s about the goals you set and (this is the REALLY important bit) how you define success, not when you set them. We call these Objectives and Key Results and they aren’t just a resolution (OKRs not just for January)– the best bit is that you can start them whenever you want. 

OKRs can capture the ambitious spirit of New Year’s Resolutions whilst actually being achievable. Their success measure should be an outcome which means you’re measuring impact, not activity.  Key Results are not a to-do list and if it looks like they are then ask “so what?” The answer to that should help you work out the outcome. Being that they run for an agreed period too means they are time-bound too. Everyone in your organisation becomes accountable so abandoning them becomes a lot more difficult. 

Surely if you want to make a change in your organisation, you don’t want your efforts to have collapsed by Valentines’ Day. So, why aren’t we trying to set and stick to our goals all year round? It’s time to think beyond January. Making change that lasts is a gradual process and conscious management of goals is vital when there’s a million and one things vying for attention and trying to pull you off track. 

Although OKRs aren’t going to magically transform your business on their own, they’re a catalyst for change. So, whenever you decide to start your journey, they can help you do something new, something differently or do something significantly more than has been done before. 

So, whether you’ve tried and given up on your goals or you’re yet to set some, it doesn’t matter. We love OKRs so whether you’ve given them a shot or you’re a complete OKR virgin – we don’t discriminate. If you’re sick of talking resolutions and you want to talk OKRs instead, give us a shout.



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