Bastin Gerald works at Profit, a company that sells software designed to help the employees and managers at a business to work in sync. Profit uses the Objectives and Key Results method to help ensure that everyone in a company is working towards a defined goal and in line with their team’s strategy.
What inspired your companies’ focus on helping businesses adopt and benefit from the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology?
I have a lot of experience with Hoshin Kanri which was a bit more complex, but pretty much a predecessor to OKRs. In my experience running companies, I felt that we needed a software that is based on a proven methodology such as OKRs to manage a geographically distributed teams that work in multiple timezones to keep the team focused on the business goals and a nice way to measure and manage their progress.
In my review of the market, I found that pretty much all the tools in the market had either a task management or a talent management heritage. And due to that, the core concept of OKRs was very difficult for them to represent. Thats when I decided we’ll build a tool to help ourselves and help everyone else.
What were some of the initial challenges of creating a comprehensive and intuitive OKR software solution?
As with any new initiative, Product Management and Design were the primary challenges. OKR is a very new concept. We had to tone it down and make it easy for people to understand and at the same time make it effective, so everyone can get the full benefit of using the methodology.
Why do you believe that the OKR methodology is so important for every business to adopt?
OKR is a proven methodology to manage a business. OKR is not new — its been there for more than 40 years. Its just been a hidden gem and didn’t get the attention that was due. At its core, every business sets out to achieve something.
OKR allows you to focus on that “something” and align everyone to move towards that something. There may be other methodologies that claim to do this. But OKRs is a very simple and effective tool that has been proven multiple times by big giants. So, I feel super confident in recommending this methodology for all businesses.
What are the greatest benefits that a business using OKR can expect in both the short and long term?
In the short term, you will certainly see adoption issues. First for the methodology and next for the tool. That said, once you cross over that bump, you will see discussions centered around OKRs. As an immediate benefit, managers can conduct their one on one meetings using the employee’s OKRs. This keeps your goals and key results in proper perspective all the time. They stay relevant all the time.
In the long term, you will see the business metrics that matter to you most, improve, Your employees should feel that they are accomplishing something that is significant to the company.
What do you believe holds some businesses back from adopting the OKR methodology and how are these barriers best overcome?
Most of the time, the reason is that they don’t understand the philosophy behind OKRs. You need to get a good understanding of the methodology first.
Next up, we don’t have the right expectations. We think of OKRs as the magic potion that will transform every individual in the company into a superman or woman. But that is not the case. OKR will help you do your job better by helping you prioritize and focus well.
The best way to get going is to have realistic expectations and start with defined pilot with a clear outline of the expected outcomes. And then iterate a few times.
Are there any ways in which your OKR software will be further developed and expanded in the future?
Of course. We are working on a ton of improvements to make the software help our customers adopt, use and benefit from the OKR methodology. We have taken a lot of care in rolling our the features we’ve rolled out and will continue to evolve the software in the months/years to come.