Monday, May 11, 2015

Managing Your Company Growth with OKRs

Contributed post by: Francisco Ruiz / CEO

Ranktab is one of the fastest-growing group-based decision-making solutions available in the market. Our solution is used by Fortune 500 companies, leading universities and governments for live corporate decision-making, peer reviews, and open voting.

In late 2014, one of my advisors, who is a successful serial entrepreneur, suggested implementing OKRs at Ranktab. He had implemented OKRs at his company and it had a significant impact on the company’s culture and speed of execution.
Searching the web about OKRs, I found the google OKRs video very helpful. Given the growth we were having, I wanted a goals methodology like OKRs to bring sharp focus to our efforts and ensure we were not wasting our valuable resources on too many initiatives.
I asked everyone in my company to watch the video, so that they understood the value of OKRs adoption. In our team meeting, we openly discussed the benefits of OKRs to both the company and individuals and decided to adopt OKRs at Ranktab.
We initially started using google spreadsheets to track OKRs at the company and team level and assigned KRs to individuals. But, it soon became unwieldy and cumbersome to maintain the spreadsheet. There was no easy way to cascade objectives and automatically update OKRs.  Also, we found the spreadsheets didn’t get updated regularly and there were no good reminder cues until the weekly meeting.
I began looking for OKR tools on the web that could replace our spreadsheet implementation. We wanted to keep embracing the OKR culture at Ranktab and found a couple of software options that could work for us without creating more complexity. Our primary requirement was a tool that was super easy to use, encourage OKR process with simple reminders/notifications, would grow with the company without much initial investment and had visual dashboards that we could use to quickly review the OKRs status in our meetings. After reviewing several solutions, we settled on Cove app, given its ease of use, visual dashboards and weekly reminders. We were easily able to migrate all our OKRs from our google spreadsheet to the tool.
With my leadership team, I set the annual objectives and quarterly OKRs for the company and our teams set quarterly team OKRs that cascaded from our company OKRs. Today, everyone in our company updates their OKRs once a week and we review our Cove OKR dashboards every Monday in our meetings. All our OKRs are visible to everyone in the company.
The focus on OKRs has really helped our employees and managers focus on the key priorities. As a CEO, company OKRs also help me focus on medium term priorities but also what I need to get done in a particular week.
The toughest part of adopting OKRs was setting the right objectives and key results for the company and teams. It takes some thinking time up front, but very much needed as it lays the groundwork for the direction of the company or team. It is time well spent. As we are growing fast and could invest our resources in umpteen number of initiatives, our OKRs are helping our employees stay focused. I notice that even my staff meetings are much more efficient, as we start my meetings by reviewing metrics on our OKR dashboards and focus on the important stuff rather than going around the table about what got done.
I like the fact that transparency and data-driven decision making have become an integral part of my company’s culture with OKRs adoption. Hey, it goes well with the group decision-making product we offer to our own customers!  
About the Author:
Francisco Ruiz is the CEO and co-founder of RankTab. Mr. Ruiz has an M.S. in Technology Commercialization degree at the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and worked at several technology ventures.

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