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                                      EPISODE 12

                                       

                                      Making Sense Of The OKRevolution

                                       

                                       

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                                      Podcast Transcript

                                       

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      On today's podcast making sense of the OKR revolution, we'll be talking about why executives are adopting OKRs how those efforts are going, and what to do if your company is starting to become misaligned. Let's dig in. Right, we're back in the lab, for the first time in quite a while. It's been, it's been a long, strange trip. But here we are. The Krezzo podcast or the Krezzocastast, whatever we came up with, we're going to relaunch and get this out to the masses. But looking forward to digging in, man, it's been a while.

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah, yeah, a lot going on. We need to get off our chests, which is probably the primary reason we do this. So looking forward to it.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Yeah, a lot. I want to get off my chest, because there hasn't really been an outlet last few months, we've just been heads down. But more to come there. I guess for today, you know, we want to kind of speak a little bit more broadly about what's been going on in the market, what we're seeing, we've been talking to a lot of customers working with customers, it's been a very exciting time. And we've had sort of a front row view of how people are using OKRs, why they're adopting them how those efforts are going. So we have some really interesting perspectives and looking to share that with folks. But I guess, you know, to kind of tee it up and get get this thing going, get the party started. Why are executives doing this shit to begin with? Why are they implementing OKRs? Why are these decisions being made? All of a sudden, you know, 50 years after this acronym was born, why all the sudden is the this sort of making its way into the mainstream there, Mr. McGowen?

                                      KJ

                                      Yes. Okay. You know, if you're a curious person, you, you want to know the answers that when? I don't know, it's, it's a hard one to answer. There's so many variables, you know, we've been speaking with a lot of executives, particularly chief operating officers, chief of staff, VP of ops, these people are responsible for setting the direction of the organization and making sure everyone's marching in the same order at towards it. And so those people have kind of given us their insight as to why they're doing it. And it tends to be from, you know, reading measure what matters and being gripped by the values in that book, and then wanting to almost copy what Google did and what the philosophy is. And so it's interesting to always ask people about the catalysts for why they started to do it, but I think there's probably a lot of broader things going on. And there's so many external factors and, and companies in worlds, you know, the government's the COVID remote work, and you could name so many things that potentially have influenced why so many people are adopting this, but overall, I think it's a good thing. That's, that's what I have to say about it. I don't really know the perfect reason why people are doing this yet. But I know that they're doing it. I know that because they're doing it's a good thing that they're doing it anyway, that's for sure.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Yeah, I was thinking about the other day, like, like I said, the, the OKR methodology was sort of evolved or whatever, you know, since like, the 70s. And the problem that we're trying to solve back then was like, that. It's just focus. Like this is, this is what matters. This this metric is the metric of success. And I think, I think the same problem exists today, like people just can't focus. You know, it's it's hard to focus when you got three people working on the company, you know, when you got 300. I mean, you got a lot of folks going in a lot of different directions. So like OKRs is a great way to focus and provide clear visibility into like "Hey, guys, this is really what's important. Like, I know, you can go into Google Analytics or Salesforce or HubSpot, and you can pull out 9000 different metrics, but really, at the end of the day, like, this is what this is how we measure success." And I think that a lot of those execs do lose the visibility into what's going on. So OKRs can't be the silver bullet, but it's certainly worth a shot.

                                      KJ

                                      But it's, it's, if we take it even broader, you know, it'll always be around this problem. And we can slap the name OKR is on us previously, it was called SMART objectives. The older guys sometimes referenced that, then before that I was MBOs, you know, management by objectives, like, and then before that, and back in the 1920s, it was just goal setting theory, you know, so as long as there's humans on this earth, there's going to be the problem of, as you say, a deficit in attentiveness, trying to get an organization to behave in a certain way to have a common language to align themselves to work as a team, to focus on what matters. That's going to be around as long as humans are around. And so I think what's evolved over time is the importance of the way we tackle the problem. And OKR is our best option, as it is today to, you know, change your company to drive a more ambitious aspiring company, you know, gain the visibility, as you say, into the operations of the business as well.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Yeah, I mean, like, you know, it's like the sports analogy, I mean, that we've been playing competitive sports for centuries, and there's no set recipe to win the championship. You can have the best players and have the best playbook and and you can still lose the game, you can lose every game. And people are trying to figure out the best ways to, to work together to try to achieve these bigger goals and business. But you know, these games lasts forever. They're sort of infinite. But, the companies and the teams that can play the game better, more efficiently, they last longer, and they do better. And I think that there's really a lack of that operational playbook for many companies, it's just sort of winging it. Just like, it's like throwing five all stars on the court together, like, Yeah, they'll probably put on a pretty interesting show and score a bunch of points. But that's not not very sustainable.

                                      KJ

                                      And is that what you kind of meant by you came up with the title of this episode, this is making sense of an OKR revolution, that that by its premise, sort of means that you're saying there is a revolution happening. Could you describe that to the listeners? What is that? What like, What do you mean by it?

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Yeah, I think, even though this methodology has been around for five decades, I think we're actually on the cusp of this really making its way into company like operational phase. Mainstream? Yeah, well, just getting getting into company operations and becoming the playbook for business. And since we've all been going remote, you know, everybody was forced very quickly to figure it out. And some did better than others, some businesses just shut down. But the companies that could go remote, quicker, more agile and take advantage of the market opportunities did better. And now that it's been, what, two years, two plus years since then the dust is settled a bit. I think everybody's getting a little retrospective and saying, okay, like, whether we're in the office, or we're remote, we have to figure out a way to engage employees better, and stay agile in and I think that people are turning to these this type of methodology, and see the benefits of it. But the application, and the actual practice of it has been a challenge for for many companies is what I see. So I think we're on the cusp of, ideally, companies like ours, sort of having a an offering to really roll this out the right way, so that they can gain a competitive advantage for their business. Right?

                                      KJ

                                      And what is that right way?

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Well, number one, if you're going to have any sort of a playbook, you need to know that the plays and your players need another play. So you know, understanding the definition and how to do OKRs correctly, how to spot a key result versus a KPI how to understand how you're going to move the needle on those efforts. The training and the learning upfront across your business. The continuous training and learning is really critical so that everybody is sort of singing on the same hymn sheet. And then when you go to actually start to implement and track this stuff you know, you're not doing it in Google Sheets or some project tool that's never going to really give you any sort of insight. So I think that the collection of this stuff, plus some expertise, you know, some guidance, those things coming together, and this is turning into a sales pitch now, but those things coming together is really what will make a difference.

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah. Well, let's, let's, I'll take you out of the sales pitch and try to put you back into what around 2017 Steven Newman. I mean, I knew that guy, he was an interesting guy. And back then, like you were talking about a revolution happening over the past couple of years and you're mentioning the adoption rate of this methodology increasing recently. Talk to me back in 2017. What did you see the market as?

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      I saw just the methodology is a great way to focus and prioritize. And then when we bought the application, and the technology, I thought was bland, boring. Not very engaging, and the implementations were poor. And that's what sparked the interest in this is just like, there's, here's an opportunity to make this a more engaging experience for me, my boots on the ground type folks, so that I can rally behind it and make it sustainable.

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah, yeah, I, ya know, I think I saw the same thing. I mean, I can remember back all those years ago. And there was, it's just the nature of a market, right that it grows gradually. And the market back then really wasn't anything special, there was only a couple of technologies. And as you say, they were kind of poor to implement it. And now, you know, like, go on Google search. And you just there's ones crop, there's new products, OKR tools, companies cropping up every must be about 10 new ones every month. It's insane. It's just bananas really.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Yeah, it is. But are any of these guys solving the problem? Or any of these guys actually solving the operational challenges that these these folks face? Thats whats hard to decipher, you know, because now it's starting to become a bit more crowded, and when that's a good indication that there's demand in the market, but it's also it also becomes harder for the buyers to determine which is one is which of these is legitimate partner who is going to actually help me make me look good when I roll this out, and which are just sort of these newbies who are throwing money at us and trying to just get away with essentially being a project management tool, you know.So it's hard to decipher, I don't know, if you are a buyer, what would you do exactly? Well, I would, I would self educate. And part of that is, you know, companies like ours needing to educate the market, because there's a lot of misconceptions around what this stuff can do what it should be a lot of big, big companies are plugging in these little OKR modules and sort of checking the box and, and dangling the carrot of, hey, we can do this. And also all these other things, and nobody really engages. I think that the challenge for the buyers is they just don't really know what's good and what's not good right now. And I think that over time, the buyers will get more educated and more sophisticated. And they'll start to understand the difference between something that's actually going to solve their problem versus something that's just going to check the box.

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah. And there's an even more dangerous trend happening. And, like love to speak directly to those VP of ops, the people who are designated as the responsible person to procure an OKR product. They, they get, you know, told by the executives, hey, we're going to start using OKRs. And the first thing they do is like, well, like, I know how I could can impress everyone. I'll go on, you know, some site, and I'll get an RFP or I'll start looking at OKR vendors, and I'll get a tool in here as quickly as possible. And that will be the difference. And then they, they look at the evaluate tools, they select one, they start putting their data into it, and the excitement and dopamine of all of that experience, you know, makes is a false sense of security and hope, because you think, Oh, shit, yeah, I'm gonna, I've now got it, we're going to do OKRs. And I've got this brand spanking new tool, it looks sexy and great. And then, you know, fast forward, two quarters later, it's all fallen to the wayside. And you're kind of scratching your head wondering why I mean, we bought the tool, you know, it looked like it was the best one on the market. There's all these great reviews about it, I guess, it's, it's not about just buying a tool, you know, it's the software could be as, as great as you want it to be. But if, if nobody is bought in, if nobody understands what's in it for them, if they don't get trained, as you mentioned earlier, if the people doing the work and the initiatives and driving the key results, and they don't understand what's in it for them, why they're doing it, they don't know the skills of how to write them properly, or structural. Software, it's not going to help you.l

                                       

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Its ike, you know, January one, everybody on Earth, you know, sets their New Year's resolution, you know, and that's when gym memberships go through the roof. And it's a packed house. And then what a month later, for me like a day later, you know, it sort of dies, you know, people stop going, ya know, and the people that have already been into the habit of going to the gym every day. It's like, it's muscle memory, they don't even have to think about it. They just do it.

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah. But it's a interesting behavioral trend that has emerged from this OKR revolution. You know, it's like, okay, the OKR acronym is becoming plasticize, from all these different thought leaders, and Google's and all these guys. And so you think, Well, what, why can't my company get a part of that action, and the trend is that they want to adopt us, because they hear the value props related to it, the benefits it can bring And then the first thing they do is try to go buy a product to figure it out. And, you know, if you're, it's, it's a good thing, you need the product, don't get me wrong, you need to track this and have it clear, have visibility into the numbers, a spreadsheet won't cut the mustard, but like, you can't just get something and expect results. As you're saying you can't just buy the membership and expect that you're going to be ripped. You know, you have to put in the the training.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      But if we can figure that out, if we can figure out that gym membership, where you just sign up, and then you're instantly ripped. I mean, we could write our ticket to anywhere. I mean, because that's a pretty magical thing. We'll try to see if we can do that on the product side. You said that what's in it for them? What's in it for me? So like, you know, you're you're an employee at you know, 200 300 person tech company. You do a townhall, q1, q2, whatever. Your second half of the year. Hey, guys, we're gonna start doing this new thing called OKR. It's like, what is your what is the typical? Maybe give me a few different types of reactions to expect from different types of folks?

                                      KJ

                                      Well, look, this podcast is about no bullshit, right? I'm not gonna sit here and start fucking telling you that everyone's going to be sitting there delighted. Like, this is what I've been waiting for on my Thursday morning. For some boss that I think is an asshole already to tell me that I have to do something else with my time. Yeah, look, I'm not gonna sit here like you guys. Put yourself in the shoes of other people. If I put myself in those shoes, I'm thinking like, Shit, I have to do this. Now. It's just another. It's just big brother trying to watch me and micromanage me and look at my performance. And immediately my default setting is resistance. And I wouldn't go as far as to say resistance and active participation and tearing down this movement. So I will actively tell other people that this OKR thing that they're trying to make us do is bullshit. And you might call me pessimistic for having that attitude but it's it's the reality, you know. So don't expect everyone to just suddenly jump on board with your, with your new OKR sort of process, there's going to be heavy resistance, heavy resistance. And so just expect that.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      So, so now that we've got the doom and gloom out of the way, what about the the other side of the spectrum? How can you get this to be something that can be championed? And how can you find the folks that can make this happen for your company?

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah, well, the front line people, you know, the people really doing the work. Like, well, I should say, I shouldn't say it that way. I should say it more like the individual contributors who who make up teams, you know, they are their focus, like a sales rep, his focus, if he's being commissioned on how many deals he wins, like, that's his focus, he wants to focus on making deals and getting commissions. So you know, okay, I don't know, I need to go back to the question. Well, I would just say, yeah, there's absolutely going to be a heavy, you can expect a heavy resistance to the initial introduction of OKRs, because they are effectively change. And people naturally are resistant to change. But to overcome that heavy resistance, what you really need is to find the people, and there's always people who are enthusiasts who are excited about the change, and there might not be many of them. But if you find them, then that's the beginning. That's the spark you need. So you just need to find the early adopters of this stuff inside your company, and get them really excited, and not even think about, you know, the resistors, because they're always going to be there, they're always going to try and tear you down with this OKR stuff. And so maybe they can't even change, maybe some of them will change. But you just got to focus on the ones that want to do this to begin with.

                                       

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Yep, totally. I think we said we're going to try to keep this, you know, keep these podcasts, 1520 minutes, there's a lot that we can unpack. But I think we're going to try to be doing these a little bit more frequently. Is there anything else here that for today that that, you know, we can share with folks around? Just what's what's happening with the market? Any other questions? Or not?

                                      KJ

                                      Maybe maybe the two of us could do that podcast thing that people do, which is give a quick prediction of what the future holds for OKRs. If the revolution is happening, you know, what's going to happen? Where's it going to end? What's what's the future? Like with OKRs? Maybe you can answer that one? What's the future like?

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      Alright, so I'm, I'm holding my metaphysical crystal ball, I'm looking into it. Yeah, I think that the future is, is related to less is more. But in a way that is built into the workflows of your company. So what I mean by that is, for example, like back, whatever it was the 80s Steve Jobs shows up to Apple, I think it was his second rodeo with Apple. And Apple had, like, you know, all these different types of products and projects that they're working on. And he came in there and you know, everybody's got their opinion of jobs, but whatever, the iPhones pretty sweet, but he came in there and just like acts, like 95% of what they were doing, and was like we're focusing on like this product, or, you know, this, this thing. And I think that if you can operationalize that mindset, that's true alignment. So I think that we'll, we'll, we'll see the OKR products in the market, start to distill down the priorities in a very clear way so that it becomes frictionless within the company.

                                      KJ

                                      Yeah, I'd love to see that. That's kind of what we're striving towards. That's what keeps us going. You know, I think if I was dancer too, I think the part maybe that precedes that is the future holds a significant need from operational leaders, they really need to get greater visibility and greater efficiency into how the business is performing, that that need is not going away. And in fact, I see that need growing and growing and growing and getting more and more uncomfortable. And, and there's a significant frustration amongst these people in the future, that they don't have that OKRs aren't working as they expected. That's what I see in the future. I see someone saying that may 5 2022, we started implementing OKRs. And now it's May 5 2023. And how the hell are we worse off than we were back then? I thought OKRs was supposed to align our business, you know, provide us with greater performance amongst teams, and it's not delivering, why not? I think that's going to be a very common thing is the adoption rate is going to keep going up for OKRs. And then the what do you call it the churn rate, the people just disengaging with this falling off? Because they can't see the benefit of it over time, because they're not, they're not getting the right train, they don't have the right products. They don't have Krezzo.

                                      Stephen Newman

                                      I was gonna say, we're not speaking to our customers, our customers will obviously purchase our offering and, you know, instantly, instant instant gratification, we can do everything. Yeah, that's yeah, they're excited, very facetious, right now, but I mean, there is, this is the problem we're trying to solve. And it's not an easy one. But, you know, I keep coming back to the what's in it for them, what's in it for people what's in it? In, you know, one of our mentors, you know, always said, every company has to have an enemy. Like, just some enemy that you're fighting against. And, and, you know, with my, one of my prior roles, you know, the enemy was paper. And so we, you know, we were against paper, and we're all about digitizing, and that was a noble cause. Here, it's like, you know, nobody likes going to meetings all day, nobody's like sitting on zooms all day. If we can remove and reduce, you know, the amount of time needed to spend together on a zoom and justify our existence. Like, if we can reduce that. I think that that's something that people can get behind. So I think that's sort of a teaser to you know, sort of the direction that we're trying to go is increase those efficiencies by stop wasting time, looking at Talking Heads, butts in PowerPoints, let's focus on solving problems and get on with their day. All right, thanks, folks for tuning in. Be sure to check out more podcasts and content and information. over@krezzo.com We'll see you next time.

                                       

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