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  • Sam Cen

5 Reasons NOT to apply OKR

Two years after my self-learning about the topic OKR, I finally got the chance to finish the book Measure What Mattersby John Doerr.


Thanks to Corona, short-time work and of course my wife, who took care of the kids and granted me some free time for reading😂. The book is very well written, inspiring and challenges me to think: why is it difficult to practice?




Here are some of my thoughts about „5 Reasons blocking OKR„:


1. Transparency. To put OKR into practice it requires the readiness and a high (if not ultimate) level of transparency. No matter to which degree we practice OKR (enterprise-level or team level), we allow people to look into our “secrets” — not only our objectives and measurable key results, but also our degree of commitment, our attitude towards how we deal with failures and how we make improvement for a better performance.


2. Team Spirit. To practice OKR it requires our priority on team- and/or enterprise-level than individual goals (which automatically becomes secondary, if compared with former ones). In a Culture or system where bonus is connected with individual goals and personal performance, it is not an easy change.


3. Horizontal alignment is the true alignment. The vertical alignment of OKR, i.e., breaking down the goals in different levels in the hierarchy, is easier than the horizontal alignment. But I think that is the true alignment in an organization! I should understand the goals of my line manager, but why should I care about the goals of my colleagues in another division or department? Admit it or not, this is the typical silo-way of thinking. In the practice, the missing of horizontal alignment makes our communication diffcult in collaboration and in projects.


4. Openess and understanding. Eventhough it is not easy to have total alignment in the whole organization, if I would have the chance to better understand the goals of my colleagues in another team or in another division, it would help me understand why he/she behaves others than I would have expected. Total transparency and openess is a dream in this world, but to have mutual understanding is the first step towards a better world.


5. Mindset, mindset, mindset. How we think determines how we behave, how we behave determines how we form our culture. But the other way round, if there is another mindset in the organization, which promotes another kind of failure culture and another way of communication, this kind of germ cell can lead to changes in the old culture and makes the organization different.


Forget OKR and forget CHANGE, if we are not ready to get challenged by the above mentioned points. So far, I love the theory of OKR, maybe I should begin to practice in my own family 🙂

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