Dart board

I’m always looking at new ways to better run e27. While most people think that just because we’re a media company, we don’t face the same issues as other tech startups — or any other startups for that matter.

We actually do — we’re just like everyone else. One of the problems I’m most passionate about is how to get the entire company aligned, moving in a single direction, with clear direction and clarity, such that every member of every team gets what the company is focusing on every day, month, quarter and year.

We recently tried something out, and it’s called OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). This is probably one of the best systems we’ve tried out. You can get all the details here. but before you jump on implementing it, let me share with you why exactly you should bother in the first place.

Discipline and Focus

We prepare OKRs before the quarter begins. During this process, everyone in the company has a good opportunity to think hard about what everyone wants to achieve and focus on. It forces everyone to think, and not just take direction from the managers/CEO.

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Getting employees to do this is way harder than most people think, because most people want/expect direction from above. But getting people to think and set a direction provides a different opportunity for employees to be part of the process of charting the company’s direction and focus.

This is also a great opportunity to see who are the more disciplined people in the organisation, and who are those who cannot focus and get something difficult done.

A centre point for discussion

When was the last time you went for a meeting and discussions points were randomly brought up, with no focus whatsoever? All the time, I bet! OKRs are a great way to have a focal point during team discussions, especially during meetings.

At e27, we pull up the company’s OKRs and the individual team’s OKRs during our weekly meetings, and centre all the discussions around these. Anything that doesn’t fit into the OKR either doesn’t get discussed at all, or get’s done right at the end. This drastically cuts off random discussions that have zero relevance towards our month’s or quarter’s goals. It becomes clear that anything that’s not on the OKR is really a distraction to discussions and not a core focus of the company.

The easiest way to say NO!

Every one has their own OKRs. This fits into the team’s OKRs, and every team’s OKRs fits into the company’s OKRs. Thus when an opportunity doesn’t fit in (be it company, team of individual), it becomes a very easy to say no to seemingly interesting opportunities.

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Even between teams, if Team A wants to work on Project X with Team B, but if that project doesn’t fit into Team B’s OKR, Team B has an easy way of saying no to Team A. This makes it seem less personal, and allows teams and individuals an easier way to say no to ideas and opportunities.

The best way to get a sense of what is everyone focused on

The company’s, every team’s and every individual’s OKR is openly available for everyone to see. If a new hire wanted to see what my focus was during this quarter, he/she could easily see it. Not only that, he/she can see my OKR focuses for all my previous quarters.

This makes onboarding way easier, and greatly increases transparency in the organisation. You can also get a sense of what an entire team is focused on, so that if different teams want to get a sense of what other teams are working on, they just look at the OKRs. One more thing, this encourages collaborations across teams. Teams collaborate when they realise that there are common ideas or problems they are working on.

Any alternatives?

OKRs are definitely not the only way to run an organisation. There’s also another model called MVOM2, which is pioneered by Salesforce. I have yet to try out that model, but the OKR model has done pretty well for us so far.

If you’ve tried OKRs, I’d love to hear from you on how well it has worked for your company. If you need help/feedback with OKRs, I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned. If you have a better system, please do share it with the community so that we can all learn from it.


Image Credit: Pixabay/Public Domain