Christina Lange

OKRs in pratise

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Talk transcript of Christina Lange – recorded on 6 Sep 2023 OKRs

Okrs Ways of working Frameworks & methods Team goals and metrics Product operations Expectation management Portfolio management Alignment Product roadmaps Prioritization Product strategy Business vs product decisions Product-market fit

About Christina Lange

Christina Lange, an experienced OKR (Objectives and Key Results) coach and corporate leader, recently delivered a compelling talk on implementing OKRs in organizations. With a focus on real-world applications, pitfalls, and best practices, Lange provides insights based on her extensive experience in both corporate and freelance OKR coaching.

Organizational growth and agility are often buzzwords that float around corporate corridors, but how often do they translate into actionable strategies?

The Duality of OKRs: Game-Changer or Time-Waster?

One of the most compelling aspects of Christina’s talk was her candid acknowledgment of the double-edged nature of OKRs. She began by posing a question that often lingers in the minds of organizational leaders: Are OKRs transformative tools or mere corporate fads? According to Lange, the answer is nuanced. OKRs can be both a game-changer and a waste of time, depending on how they are approached and implemented.

To put it succinctly, the key lies in “calibrated expectations.” Lange warned against the “HIPPO decision” — the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion in the room dictating the adoption of OKRs without adequate understanding or alignment. The importance of sponsorship cannot be overstated here. A sponsor, ideally someone at the C-level, needs to be deeply committed to the OKR methodology. This person’s role is to ensure that OKRs are not just another item on the to-do list, but a strategic framework that drives the organization forward.

Data and Focus: More than Just Buzzwords

The role of data and focus in OKRs is another cornerstone of Lange’s talk. She emphasized the importance of having metrics and dashboards in place before diving into OKRs. “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion,” she asserted, stressing that a lack of data-driven approach could quickly turn OKRs into mere wall decorations.

Data is not just about numbers; it’s about guiding decision-making and ensuring that OKRs are aligned with organizational goals. Lange also highlighted the value of focus — being able to say no to distractions and remaining aligned with the core OKRs. It’s not about doing more; it’s about doing what matters the most.

Adopting a Product Mindset

One of the most intriguing parts of Christina Lange’s talk was her advocacy for “product thinking” over “project thinking” when it comes to OKRs. Traditional project management approaches often involve rigid structures and timelines. In contrast, product thinking is fluid, customer-centric, and adaptable — characteristics that align perfectly with the essence of OKRs.

Christina warns against “overthinking and overdoing” the OKR methodology, especially when just starting out. There’s no need to start with specialized OKR software or complicated frameworks. The beauty of OKRs lies in their simplicity and flexibility, and it’s crucial to preserve these attributes during implementation.

Learning and Adapting: The OKR Cycle

An OKR cycle is not a one-time event but a learning journey, a point that Lange emphasized in her talk. She advises treating each OKR cycle as a learning moment — an opportunity to reflect, adapt, and improve. The importance of retrospectives in this process cannot be overstated.

Retrospectives offer a structured space for teams to analyze what worked and what didn’t, and to decide on actions for improvement. Lange suggests that retrospectives should be conducted at all levels of the organization, making the learning from each OKR cycle transparent and actionable.

Making OKRs Your Own

Christina Lange’s talk serves as a masterclass for anyone involved in OKRs, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned practitioner. Her blend of theoretical depth and practical insights provides a well-rounded understanding of what it takes to make OKRs work in real-world settings.

As Lange eloquently put it, “Every OKR cycle was different for me. I’ve learned a lot, failed a lot, but I keep on practicing OKR because I believe that if I make OKR my thing, it will help to understand strategy and provide guidance for operational work.”

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