During and especially after the initial implementation of Objectives and Key Results in a company, it is crucial, that the framework is taken care of and that the OKR model merges into company culture. Therefore, every company working with OKRs should have its OKR Master or OKR Champion, who is taking care of certain tasks that come with OKRs.
What does the OKR Champion do?
Of course, the management is still textually responsible for setting the right goals and for achieving them. Management should also be the driving force when it comes to thoroughly integrating OKRs into the company’s DNA and lead by example. But management does not take care of the organizational matters around OKRs.
Those issues are taken care of by the OKR Champion. He or she makes sure the OKR method is applied properly, processes run smoothly and arising questions are answered correctly.
Here are the major tasks of the OKR Champion:
Assuring a smooth planning process:
Schedule OKR workshops with the right group of participants on management level
Timing of the planning process
Set reminders for collecting input from Teams and for submission of OKR sets
Moderation of quarterly management OKR workshops – no textual responsibility!
Identification of strategically important and operationally urgent goals
Negotiation of resources and cross-functional alignment
OKR quality control:
Proper formulation and phrasing of Objectives and Key Results
Go to person for questions about OKRs in the company
Provide transparency by regular communication of overarching vision, mission and strategies and possible adaptions
Integration of OKRs in daily work life:
Administrate digital home of OKRs, i.e. intranet or specialized OKR tool
Provide information about OKRs
On-boarding of new employees
As already mentioned, the OKR Champion does not have any textual responsibility for OKRs. Neither does he or she review the submitted OKR sets in advance of the quarterly management OKR workshop. The managers, who submit the OKR sets, are 100% responsible for the content of their sets. The OKR Champion only supports the process with his or her advice and guidance.
Who should be OKR Champion?
Naturally, the person in the company who becomes OKR Champion has to invest a certain amount of time into his or her new role, especially during the recurring quarterly OKR process. On the other hand, the necessary time becomes less and less as routines develop and people get more familiar with Objectives and Key Results.
So time is one factor when deciding on a good OKR Champion. Another one is neutrality. The OKR champion functions as a mere moderator during the OKR process and takes care of some administrative tasks. Therefore, to maintain neutrality, the OKR Champion should have as little interest as possible in influencing the goal finding process in one way or another. For example, it might be difficult for a Key Account Manager to stay neutral during the negotiation of resources, when one of his own top priority topics is about to get postponed.
Our experience has shown, that the best positions for an OKR Champion are either in Human Resources or in Management Assistance. Employees in these positions usually have a good overview of the company, get more or less regularly in touch with the department managers and have the people skills to manage a horde of managers negotiating resources.
At the end, the success of OKRs in a company, especially in the beginning, strongly depends on the management. When managers give a good example in the use of OKRs, employees will follow. If managers do not treat OKRs as they should, the whole framework is doomed to fizzle.
With the management on board, a good OKR Champion can greatly influence the benefits a company derives from the method and thereby contribute to a transparent company culture and a less overtaxed workforce.