Can OKRs Work to Fuel Business Innovation and Growth?

by Carly Clyne | Jun 20, 2022

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With technology altering rapidly, this extreme rate of change opens up innovation opportunities for many businesses. 

Innovation is all about evolution and learning to recognise any potential growth opportunities. Establishing any shortcomings before hitting a wall is crucial, as failing to do so could cost both time and valuable resources. 

With the world around us continuing to adapt, without flexibility, you’re at risk of missing the boat, so here are some vital things to consider:

When working in an innovative environment, you need a flexible goal-setting approach, and that’s where OKRs come in. OKRs and Innovation are a match made in heaven. OKRs can be used to articulate the direction of travel for your organisation, measuring progress along the way.

OKRs that are well-structured can be robust and inspirational; they encourage creative ways to push boundaries, achieving any aspirational goals. Think of OKRs as a North Star, ensuring that everything contributes to the overarching vision and business objectives.


How can OKRs drive Innovation?

OKRs align teams

If your teams aren’t aligned, then Innovation is compromised. It creates a disconnect if your employees aren’t working toward shared organisational goals. 

Introducing clear OKRs helps get every team member on the same page and working toward the same core vision. This cooperation ensures that each team player knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and how what they are doing is moving the organisation forward—educating your employees on how their OKRs fit into the overall strategy; ensures alignment and focus. 

We recommend that you check in regularly with your staff to ensure that each team member stays on the right track with their OKRs and company objectives. You don’t want employees to forget what OKRs are about or how theirs link to the overall strategy. This is why it’s beneficial to regroup if this happens to get everyone back on track. 

OKRs give employees ownership

It’s great to have your employees on the same page, but what’s even better when it comes to innovation is if they help to create that page. Having your teams involved in the OKR setting process gives them a sense of ownership. Employees will be more driven and motivated, helping them contribute to the overall company goals. Brainstorming sessions are an excellent way to gather thoughts on effective metrics for your team’s objectives.

OKRs are transparent

Within an OKR program, every individual can see objectives or key results at any time, not just their own. This transparency is what makes the OKR framework so successful. It’s essential to see where other team members or other departments fit in, and by giving all parties oversight, this is possible. 

By openly sharing the goals we set out to achieve, we’re more likely to hold ourselves accountable for the results. We’re also more likely to spot opportunities to collaborate and share resources when we can see what our teammates are working towards. Cross-functional collaboration outperforms siloed working; it allows each team to operate better together, resulting in a more robust operation.

OKRs provide focus

The fewer the OKRs, the better; it enables you to pick the highest priorities for your business. You should be asking questions like ‘What’s most important over the next 3, 6 or 12 months?.’ In doing this, it gives focus on those opportunities that can really make a difference. 

Growth environment – stretch goals 

To achieve strategic growth, you need to stretch. It’s challenging to grow your business by doing the same things you’ve always done. Fostering an environment where stretch is encouraged can bring about a wealth of benefits for your business. This can drive your team to think innovatively and create projects and initiatives that push people to achieve the business’ growth goals rather than encouraging them to settle. 

Culture is key

It is vital to consider the cultural environment of your organisation and whether it promotes the elements required for growth, such as autonomy, transparency, communication and psychological safety. 

A high level of psychological safety is essential for a successful OKR programme. Letting your teams know it’s ok to fail when trying to achieve growth helps them strive and take risks, which they may not have done otherwise. If you’re planning for development or innovations, talk to us about how OKRs can help you and your organisation.