Transparency in OKR

One of the important ingredients for successful OKR adoption in any company is alignment; as was highlighted in this article. An individual OKR that is aligned with the team OKR means: if the individual KR is achieved, then it should bring the team KR closer to the completion.

If we dissect this causation, we'd find there's an element of transparency at play. An individual cannot create and align her OKR to the team OKR if she doesn't have the visibility on the latter. In other words, the team OKR must be accessible by anyone in the team. Only after each individual is aware and understands it can they make their own OKR that is aligned with the team.

The same goes for horizontal alignment between teams and departments. If Business Development would like to help Operations to achieve their target, then they need to have visibility on the Operations OKR. This visibility helps to define a clear scope of responsibility as to what it is that the Business Development can/should do for Operations, and by when it should be finished.

As was illustrated by the 2 paragraphs above, transparency helps the OKR practice to be more effective by:

  1. Creating a sense of awareness to which OKR we should align with. If you're a team member, having a visible team OKR should remind you to always align your individual OKR with the team. If you're a team lead, other's team OKR that are visible to you should encourage you to ask yourself: what can my team do to help other teams achieve their OKR?
  2. It's not enough to be aware of the OKR; we must understand the content of the OKR itself. What are the metrics that we'll use to measure it? Are there any dependencies on some of the KRs? Etc.
  3. Only by having awareness and full understanding of the OKR can each individual (including the team lead) define their scope of responsibility.

When 3 items above can be implemented properly, we'd then see the purpose of having transparency: to give clarity for everyone involved.  

Nowhere is this practice more true than in OKR Setup.

Before the OKR Setup begins, everyone in the team (including the team lead) would need to write down their individual OKR for the following period (weekly, bi-weekly, etc) on the OKR Dashboard that is made visible to anyone in the team. During the session, they will take turn one-by-one in explaining their priorities or commitment. Then, the other participants are encouraged to give constructive feedback. The discussion is meant to refine one's scope of responsibility and to reduce any assumption or misunderstanding.

As a result, when the meeting ends, there should be a sense of clarity. Everyone is clear of what is expected from them, their peers, and their manager.


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