White-Label OKRs. Create Your Own Operating System
Create your own customized, sustainable and systematic way to drive results.
OKRs provided a great operational foundation, but now it's time to level up with "White-Labeled Operations."
Operational leaders are responsible for working across teams in order to drive alignment, efficiencies, and better outcomes. The challenges are all teams are different, they work in different tools, and you're not a functional expert in one particular area. Where you can thrive is by bringing a fresh perspective to a SYSTEM, not a stale acronym.
After engaging with customers and leaders it's clear a better way was needed. Traditional operations need to keep up with the pace of change in a sustainable way, and now it's here. Introducing White-Labeled Operations.
What is an Operating System?
A Customized Operating System is a logic-based approach to creating internal alignment around four core components of systematic operations - direction, measurement, execution and engagement - but in a way that is unique to your business. Instead of trying to shoehorn teams into a rigid methodology (such as S.M.A.R.T. goals, MBOs, KPIs, V2MOMs, or even OKRs), a custom Operating System gives you the opportunity to come up with your own naming convention. By renaming each of the four components, your company can essentially white-label internal operations in a more sustainable and engaging way.
🎯 Provides Strategic Direction
Company strategy often lives in some slide deck deep in the CEO's laptop. Mission and vision are typically painted on the walls, but most teams are working remote these days. People need strategic direction to ensure alignment. Call it Objectives, Aims, Goals, or whatever you like, but it's where you aspire to be and why.
📊 Quantifies Measurement
In order to measure progress and achievement, it's critical to outline multiple indicators of success. You can call these Key Results, Metrics, KPIs, Leading/Lagging Indicators, or something else, but it's the quantifiable outcomes you can track over time. Quantification are influenced outcomes, which differs from projects, tasks, or to do lists that can be controlled. Finding the right balance of quality, quantity and health-based measurement can ensure for a holistic way of measuring performance.
🛠️ Focuses Execution
Execution is the driver of results. Ideas without execution are just dreams, but solid execution can turn dreams into realities. Call these Initiatives, Projects, Experiments, or Big Giant Rocks, but they are the actionable work you can control. It's what you create, launch, and learn from. Every company executes (some better than others) but the more execution that happens, the more learning that can happen. Build, ship, iterate. That's the execution motto.
💬 Engages Teams
Establishing a consistent operating cadence is the most critical element of an Operating System so that teams can share updates, context, and learnings across all the aspects of their work. These can be done live or async, and can be called Check-Ins, Touchpoints, Updates, or anything else which signifies a consistent point of engagement. This is the connective tissue that holds the organization together, and creates a strategic system of record that can live on forever.
How is an Operating System Different Than OKRs?
They are the same, but different. Depending on your culture, goals, and ability to transform, OKRs might not provide enough coverage operationally. A Custom Operating System takes the good parts of OKRs (the system and structure) and expands on it in a more logical way, in order to fit the more comprehensive needs of your team.
Operating Systems expand on OKRs:
📖 Tells a More Complete Story
OKRs aren't for every team, and that's ok. The good news is OKRs is simply a system, and there's more than one way to skin a cat. A Custom Operating System brings together four logical components vs. two.
💡 Clarifies Definitions
OKRs only represents two parts of the four part framework, so right out of the gate there's going to be some confusion. A Custom Operating System eliminates that problem but opening it up to the four main parts.
🏎️ Faster Time to Value
Too much data, too many things to do, and the pace of change is too fast. Instead of operating in a quarterly cadence and recreating the wheel each time, the Operating System shortens the feedback cycles.
😅 Higher Engagement
When OKRs initially gets rolled out into an organization, it's often met with a lot of resistance. By putting the framework in the hands of your culture, you can break down barriers and begin to operate smoother.
How to Be Successful an Operating System
Just like with any transformation effort, it takes time and requires strategic thinking.
👔 Get Leadership Buy-in
Without the commitment and active participation of leadership, driving a culture shift towards an Operating System will be challenging.
🤔 Share "The Why'
Clearly communicate the reasoning behind implementing an Operating System to foster greater engagement and alignment.
🔹 Start Small
Kick-off with a focused team to get early traction, then learn, and refine the process before a company-wide rollout.
📚 Identify Mentorship
Designate internal champions who can guide others in the organization.
🔘 Keep It Simple
Start with a limited number of items and gradually build from there.
🍻 BYOB (Bring Your Own Buzzword)
Using the four components of an Operating System, rename them to work for your business. More on this can be found in our Radical Operations Playbook.
Improve Your Chances of Success
While you can run OKRs off the back of a napkin, it's not recommended. Here are some additional components which can yield better outcomes.
Here are some additional components which can yield better outcomes.
🔄 Set a Cadence of Engagement
Regular engagement can help maintain alignment, adjust as necessary, and keep teams motivated and engaged.
🎉 Celebrate Wins
Celebrating small victories and milestones can foster a sense of accomplishment and enhance motivation.
😅 Learn from Setbacks
Understand that not everything fully achieved. 20% of the effort generates 80% of the results. Learn from these experiences and use them to improve future goal setting and execution.
💻 Use the Right Technology
Having an Culture Operating System and providing necessary training and tracking can ease the transition, facilitate execution, and boost success rates.
💪 Just Keep Going
Don't quit. Be resilient and persevere. Implementing any transformation effort is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that needs patience and perseverance.
By addressing these points, your organization will be well-equipped to embrace an Operating System and the benefits it provides.
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