OKR & Managing Growth

OKR systems. What exactly are they? What do later stage startups know about them and how do they use them effectively or not so effectively? All these questions have been discussed at AustrianStartups’ very first “Later Stage Breakfast” – an event for later stage startups who talk about their previous experiences while having breakfast together. The attendants of the first event were HappyMed, Shpock, Blockpit, Hackabu, Bikemap to only name a few. Before we tell you all the insights of the event, let’s start by unveiling what exactly OKR’s are:

“OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results”, according to http://eleganthack.com. “The form of the OKR has been more or less standardized. The Objective is qualitative, and the KR’s (most often three) are quantitative. They are used to focus a group or individual around a bold goal. The objective sets a goal for a set period of time, usually a quarter. The key results tell you if the objective has been met by the end of the time.”

How does this concern us? Basically, founders of later stage startups met up with AustrianStartups last week to talk about their own experiences with setting objectives and what their key learnings with OKR’s have been so far. Let’s see what they came up with!

The key finding

There are four main point you have to consider when implementing OKR systems in your startup:

  1. Your goals have to be measurable (& actionable). It’s basic knowledge, but it’s key.
  2. Every team member ought to be kept updated constantly about the current status of every KR. A way to implement this, is to have weekly, monthly or quarterly townhalls with every team member.
  3. There is no correct system on implementing OKR’s. Every startup should experiment what works best for them and their company.
  4. OKR systems come hand in hand with extra effort and lots of extra time that has to be invested, especially in the beginning.

However, all these aspects combined will give your company a tool to help you focus on your business goals and measure your outcome, not just your output!

What else to consider.

Ok, we all know now that OKR’s can be a significant tool for your startup, as well as the main findings of startups who have already implemented OKR’s into their everyday business. Is there something else to consider?

Yes. It’s also important to realize that there is no “too early” for implementing an OKR system. Just start with setting objectives for your management, as well as objectives for each department of your business, and experiment with it. “Each department can take the time for an individual brainstorming session where all ideas are welcome. The output of these sessions can be sorted and structured to make it measurable: the only thing left is to present it to the management which will then in turn, either officially approve it or not” Philipp from HappyMed recommends.

Furthermore, it’s relevant to understand that OKR’s and the culture of your company are not working exclusively without one another. It’s quite the opposite: OKR’s can even be used to engage and enhance the intrinsic motivation of each worker:

Want to implement OKR systems yourself?

“These tools will help you” , says Theresa from Hackabu, before sharing some tips and tricks on the subject:

  • Airtable – an online spreadsheet that gives you the power of a database to organize anything.
  • Confluence – a commercial Wiki software that helps you communicating within your company.
  • Google Sheets – a mash-up between Google Docs and Excel.
  • weekdone – helps you plan weekly and set your goals quarterly.
  • Ally – a flexible wage software that helps you with payroll accounting.

To end it off.

As we have previously mentioned, there is no perfect time to start OKR’s in your business. With the right tools and great motivation, it can support and improve your startup. Remember: “Do not over engineer. Adapt to your needs.” as Cornelius Palm from Blockpit puts it. And don’t give up, if something goes wrong – take the time to experiment and establish the best system for your own startup!


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