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  • Writer's pictureCarsten Ley

Agile Tour Bangkok - The Pitfalls of Goal Setting by OKR Implementation

As keynote speaker on the Agile Tour Bangkok, we highlighted from our consulting experience what can go wrong while implementing a Goal Setting Systems.


How The basic of Goal Setting by OKRs

OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) is a Goal Setting methodology to break down strategies and long-term goals in shorter iterative cycles of 3 to 6 months with clear inspirational Objectives and measurable Key Results.

The basic OKR structure can be see in this Google example with an easy understandable Objective and Key Results which measure both the work output (leading KRs) and the impact of the project on the customer-side (lagging KRs)

Basic OKR Structure with Google example
Basic OKR Structure

Everything you do on a daily basis to bring you closer to the short term Objectives and Key Results are actions, task or issues pending on your management and implementation methodology and are just a part of OKRs to achieve the Key Results but are not directly measured.

After setting up the OKRs on company or project / team level it is time to start the regular cadence to track your daily work against KR progress. E.g. in a weekly or bi-weekly meeting we will ask all KR owners to report if the work of their teams had any impact in improving the measurable Key Results in our Google case KR1 from 1.5 to 1.1 or KR3 from 5 to 8. KR2 we can measure by which systems have been finished. It is important to measure the progress regularly to influence the daily work or sprints.

Main OKR implementation pitfalls

In our experience with over 60 Goal Setting by OKRs implementation projects we saw the main pitfalls of clients trying OKRs before they engaged us:

  1. The Top Management is not ready for OKR implementation

  2. The Strategy and Goal planning siloes the organisation from the top

  3. Your teams are not ready for OKR set-up and measurements

  4. The OKR Goal Setting roll-out is too complicated

  5. The Organisation & Teams lacks discipline to implement a progress measurement

  6. HR is trying to manage the Business Goal Setting process

1. For top down organisations it is difficult to implement OKRs as the goal setting should be inclusive and organised in leadership or team workshops rather than just coming from a CEO or department / team leader. Furthermore the regular check-ins should be done in a team setting not into a 1:1 performance reporting setting. That means that the management needs to be open for goal setting and result discussions rather than just top down management

2. Many companies build their strategies into department or team strategies which leads to siloing on the top. It is than difficult to build cross-functional teams or collaboration on lower levels which is one of the main goals to implement OKRs. Ideally strategy is planned by topics or strategic layers and after breaking it down to a yearly or quarterly planning, we start to allocate the right resources to solve or achieve this topics, independently from their teams.

3. The OKR process requires teams to set-up OKRs together in OKR workshops and makes everybody accountable in the regular OKR check-ins towards results. In a lot of companies team members are not used to think about strategies or goals or just work on tasks rather than be connected to the outcomes of these tasks. Therefore an OKR training is important so that everybody understands the mindset shift necessary to OKRs regarding active participation, inclusivity and result-orientation.

4. Some of our clients had previously implemented OKRs on 4-5 levels in the organisation including individual OKRs. We advise to roll-out OKRs one level per quarter in order to have a meaningful Change Management process throughout the organisation. Most companies need only 2-3 level OKRs regarding company OKRs, program / department OKRs and project / team OKRs. More OKR level lead to a very long planning cycle per 3 or 6 months and often delay the planning readiness at the beginning of the quarter.

5. The key success factor of OKRs is discipline. That means that even early start-ups need to keep up the quarterly OKR set-up & review cadence and a weekly or bi-weekly check-in. Only based on these regular progress data, we are able to steer the company into the right directions.

6. HR often initiates the OKR process as it involves training and a full implementation to all teams. However inside the OKR process of business goal setting, other teams like strategic planning or PMO / chief of staff are more suitable to lead the business focus of an OKR implementation.

Besides having OKR Champions as internal facilitators would also help the change management and roll-out process to create a safe space and contact points for people to ask any questions or seek support internally.

If you are interested in implementing OKRs in your organization, please have a look at our online courses or contact us directly to support your in your organization with OKR Trainings or full OKR Pilot Roll-out for one quarter.

Certified OKR Champion

This course can be taken as an 8 hours inhouse course with an instructor at your organisation with online test and certification

or as a complete online training certification course on

Speech & Webinar Conclusion

This Keynote Speech for the Agile Tour Bangkok sparked a lot of great discussions during the Q&A sessions regarding the right way of implementing OKRs.

The most important part is to keep a regular cadence of OKR Training, Set-up & Review Workshops and regular OKR check-ins on quarterly or half-yearly basis. Furthermore explaining to management and staff what is culturally required and changing by implementing a more inclusive and less top-down goal setting method.

For more information how to implement OKRs successfully or to inspire your teams on a keynote speech or workshop, please contact us on or on our contact form.

This blog was written by Carsten Ley, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Entrepreneur & Enabler in Customer Experience, Project & Business Transformation leading large scale project implementations in Retail, E-commerce, Banking, Consulting & Experience Management for companies like Deloitte Germany, VW Mexico, Rolls-Royce UK, Lazada Vietnam and H&M South East Asia. He founded 2018 Asia PMO, a consulting firm focussing on getting clients fast and efficient into implementation of company objectives, customer & employee experience improvements to foster a result- and team-oriented environment.

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