Avoiding the Top 3 Deadly Sins That Botch OKR Implementations

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) have become a popular framework for aligning organizations around strategic goals. However, many companies struggle to realize benefits from OKRs. Why do OKR implementations often fail?

In our recent video, Adaptivity’s Adam Asch and George Schlitz dive into the three most common mistakes that doom OKR efforts:

Misuse/Poor Application 

The first pitfall is companies view OKRs as just a replacement for previous goal frameworks. They take existing output-focused goals and just relabel them as OKRs without changing the underlying behaviors or processes.

The result – no real improvement in strategic focus. Common anti-patterns include too many OKRs diluting priorities, individual-level versus organization-level OKRs, and measuring completion rates rather than business impact. 

The key is using OKRs to truly focus efforts on the vital few objectives that drive disproportionate value. Avoid just installing OKRs as a new system on top of existing processes.

Lack of Organizational Change Management

 A second major downfall is failing to do the hard work of organizational change management when introducing OKRs. Leadership doesn’t modify existing processes and reporting to align with OKRs. They layer OKRs on top rather than integrating them into workflows. This results in added bureaucracy that frustrates teams.

Effective adoption requires deliberate culture shaping and stakeholder engagement from the start. Employees at all levels must understand the OKR process and buy into the mindset shift – from outputs to outcomes, activity to impact.

Ineffective Leadership Approach

Finally, challenges with the leadership approach undermine many OKR initiatives. Rather than transparently co-creating alignment around the vital few focus areas, some executives just dictate OKRs.

Leaders must be willing to make trade-offs and sunset legacy pet projects that no longer align. Lacking this key shift or not modeling the focus and alignment OKRs enable prevents organizations from unlocking the potential.

Adaptivity provides services that help your organization optimize its processes and practices and create the guidelines that leaders can apply to continuously adapt to changing conditions, working from where you are now.

Our expertise allows us to customize our approach for maximum outcomes for your organization and customers.