I moved to downtown Phoenix last year for the view and big-city feel. The 19-story Stewart Apartments, built by The Empire Group, offers sweeping views of the Valley, a rooftop pool, and popular breakfast joint Snooze which just reopened. It’s a pretty darn cool place!
Life here also comes with a couple of not-so-great features unique to downtown living, the biggest being the parking nightmare. Even with a reserved space that I pay for each month, I often end up late at night walking from a couple of blocks away to my apartment. The issue comes down to inconsiderate people, some not even residents, pirating reserved spots, and minimal guest parking – approximately 15 spaces total (including handicap) for a 300-unit complex. Yes, you read that right. How in the world does the city allow this? The management company seemingly has no way of controlling the parking situation. They have been working on it since before I moved here in September.
Life here also comes with a couple of not-so-great features, the biggest being the parking nightmare. “
“They need to commit to an OKR to resolve this parking issue!” I yelled internally to myself as I walked from down the street this past weekend. Short for Objectives and Key Results, OKRs were invented by former Intel CEO Andy Grove and made famous by companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. They are designed specifically for situations like these.
The goal with OKRs is to make changes and solve problems by setting Objectives and determining success by tracking Key Results. We start by defining a timeframe, typically quarterly, but 30-days may be sufficient for the parking project. In this case, the objective would be to ensure residents who pay for parking have a place to park. The key result would be residents no longer whining to management and social media about not having a place to park. Open parking, reserved signs for occupied spaces, permits, and the right to tow may all be up for consideration. That last one is a biggie as people figure out pretty quickly the towing signs are bogus. Once you have an Objective and Key Results, you determine the initiatives that will accomplish these in the given timeframe.
Here at Outhouse, the initial department to kick off OKRs was Product Development. With so many innovative ideas coming in, we often struggled to get a handle on them. At our weekly team meetings, we discussed the ideas and started working on a few. At subsequent meetings, “bigger and better” ideas came up, sidetracking us from the ones we were already working on. Although we made progress, this process wasn’t very efficient, and it took a lot of time to complete projects.
The goal with OKRs is to make changes and solve problems by setting Objectives and determining success by tracking Key Results. “
And this is how OKRs came into play. We now approach the same projects with a manageable, three-step process:
- Our team agrees on one to three top Objectives (no more than three) that we are committing to accomplish each quarter.
- We then decide on several meaningful Key Results to track our progress towards the objective and ultimate success.
- Finally, we map out the initiatives and tasks needed to achieve and move our OKRs forward.
With multiple tech people from various specialties working on product development, OKRs ensure the best use of time for each, and the entire team is working towards shared goals. They also force us to ask ourselves, “Why,” whenever we consider a new Objective. The goal is to pick those that are most critical. An added benefit has also been a reduction in meetings, from weekly to bi-weekly.
OKRs ensure the best use of time, and the entire team is working towards shared goals. They also force us to ask ourselves, “Why,” whenever we consider a new Objective. “
These examples (parking and product development) offer a simple overview of the OKR process. With the tremendous success here at Outhouse, we would like to share with you what we have learned in a five-part series:
- Introducing OKRs
- Preparing for the OKR Journey
- Crafting Great OKRs
- Driving OKR Alignment
- Managing Effectively with OKRs
Watch your inbox over the coming weeks for this series written by Outhouse partner Bill Gelbaugh.