OKR divides the big elephant

A long-term ambition is challenged throughout by conditions over which we have no control. The labor market changes, competitors attack, technologies emerge and small and large events occur without us being able to predict them. We have to deal with that, but with our eyes on the goal.

Although elephants are both wise and endangered, we often hear about the “elephant in the room” and “take one bite at a time”. How do you solve a big challenge when you can no longer ignore it?

OKR is a framework for goal management that is becoming increasingly popular, also in Norway. The framework has been used, and receives warm praise, by the founders behind Google, and an increasing number of committed managers in various industries are now exploring the opportunities it provides.

In recent years, Kenny Hognestad has become well acquainted with OKR, among other things as head of the Strategy execution team in Telia’s division for business customers. He has had an active role in the turnaround that Telia has carried out over the past 5 years. Here he briefly explains what OKR does with the big elephant.

– So, with OKR there will be more focus on the short term and one quarter at a time? – Not quite, because the ambitions can be long-term, but the ability to implement must be short-term.

A long-term ambition is challenged throughout by conditions over which we have no control. The labor market changes, competitors attack, technologies emerge and small and large events occur without us being able to predict them. We have to deal with that, but with our eyes on the goal.

When the corona crisis hit the world with full force in 2020, many had ignored the warning lights for several months. Suddenly, school students had to deal with digital meetings overnight. They had to carry out. Despite several negative effects, digital maturity increased and we gained new experiences for future learning in schools. At the same time, many companies had to adapt. Online shopping has exploded, digital wine tasting has blossomed and Norwegian tourists have created growth for many players in the Norwegian tourism industry. It’s not just coincidence.

– While some managers have sat and watched the development during the crisis, others have made smart reprioritizations and realized short-term goals for the future. In times of crisis, some new guiding stars always appear.

When you ask sedentary colleagues for short-term mobilization, openness and involvement become important. When I see the elephant in the room I am terrified. When I get to look a little closer at it, I begin to see which way it should be led out. Then I meet the eyes of the other people in the room, and we nod to each other. With calm movements, the elephant is led – and takes one step at a time – until it is out of the room.

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