Archiving a Twitter thread:
Niall’s thread is as thoughtful, judicious, and balanced as I’d expect. Allow me to be a bit more negative about Objectives and Key Results. :o)
First, the planning horizon. At
$megacorp and anywhere that follows that
playbook, OKRs are a quarterly process.
“Be careful what you measure”: if your planning cadence is quarterly, there’s a strong chance it’ll become your delivery cadence too. That is too slow.
I love having a plan. Honestly, I enjoy the chaos as we watch it crash into reality, particularly in teams that are constrained by operational concerns (read: basically everyone with real customers).
Plans go out the window. That’s fine, they’re still useful.
But a quarter - for most teams and orgs I’ve worked with, including at
$megacorp - is too big a chunk to let us respond well to inevitable change.
So OKRs become a big, expensive activity that swallow a bunch of team and management bandwidth without allowing room to react.
Second, “KRs considered harmful” (with caveats).
Making good KPIs is a known hard problem, right? As an engineering example, consider the difficulty of producing meaningful SLOs.
Coming up with a brand new set of good KPIs each quarter is high overhead and prone to failure.
“KR 1: produce the metrics we’re going to use to track this objective.” :o)
It can feel really hard to tie quantitative measurement of KRs - often proxy metrics - to the real outcomes we’re trying to drive.
Finally though, it’s not all gloom.
Objectives are a good tool for driving alignment. They can build a coherent narrative around strategy and tactics, from execs through to delivery teams.
I like to de-emphasize the measurement part though.
Where we do have KRs, ideally they’re tied to longer-term KPIs that we can iterate on and come to understand better over time, on the order of months or years.
SLOs are a good example. Or from a team perspective, the DORA metrics. Or “north star” product / business metrics.
Where I’ve worked like this, it’s felt lighter-weight and more agile in the best senses.
All that said, whatever your particular team, org and/or company are doing to plan their time: get involved, and try to make it work as well as possible.
Channel your reservations into creativity. Use and improve the system. Try experiments. Share them.
Planning is good!