Fri, 14. February 2020
We released our new OKR (Objectives and Key Results) module for Loop Now. I'm incredibly proud of the effort the team put in behind the scenes in the last weeks and would like to quickly touch on why OKRs and agile feedback are a natural fit.
First, and most importantly, OKRs were on the top of our list of requests from our customers. Today, most organizations are in the middle of some kind of change / transformation project. Faster moving external environments need fast internal organizational reaction times. To make sure those projects are successful, companies need a) regular data about the state of things and b) a way to align action across the organization.
Loop Now is designed to enable point a): easy and non-disruptive regular feedback loops, including feedback from employees (pulse checks, project feedback etc.) as well as feedback for employees (peer feedback, 360° feedback etc.). Both are cornerstones of making organisations more agile. Regular feedback loops about the current state of things are a prerequisite for iterative, data-driven improvements - both on a personal as well as the organizational level.
Translating learnings from feedback into aligned, actionable objectives is the natural next step. OKRs help achieving exactly that.
But aren't there enough objective management tools already?
Yes and no. On the enterprise level, there's solutions that are often powerful but hard to implement. For mid-sized companies and teams, we found it hard to argue against just using the simplest solution (that we also used internally): Google Sheets. For us, that worked quite well on the strategic company objective level, but had important downsides on the more operational team-level key results.
The main reasons why Google Sheets works so well on the strategic level are a) flexibility - it can be designed to virtually any need, and b) shareability - its sharing options can easily be customized. Thus it's an easy solution if the main goal is to align company activity along transparent objectives.
Going from the company to the individual team objective and key result level is where we started missing core functionality. In particular: Keeping key result progress up to date. It always felt like a chore and required habit changes (we tried rules like: Update your progress every Friday as the last thing you do before leaving the office). None of it worked perfectly.
That's where we saw the main value we could add: At the core of Loop Now is hassle-free, mobile friendly answering of questions. And we realized we could use the same mechanic that runs our continuous feedback surveys to make keeping OKRs up-to-date less of a chore.
How it works
On the objective level, we made sure to keep maximum flexibility: Objectives can have several owners, public or custom transparency, can have custom labels (e.g. company, team, individual), and key results can be set to clear target values.
The twist: Whenever you create an objective you can determine update rules (e.g. every Friday, 6pm). That's when the tool will automatically ask key result owners to quickly keep track of their progress. From the message, you directly flip through what we call "progress cards" - from any device and no habit changes or additional steps required.
With this, we solved one of our major gripes with existing solutions: Even if you set reminders, you always had to actively go somewhere, log in, update the objective. We removed all of this friction: Loop Now asks, you answer. Done.
How does this fit our larger goal to help organizations become more agile?
Change requires frequent data. Loop Now already excels in implementing lightweight feedback solutions. They run in the background, can be easily customized and are fun to answer. With our Loop Now OKR module, we now close the loop (pun intended) by also giving organizations and teams a tool that lets them translate their findings into action. Most importantly: It's fast and easy to implement and can be run in just one team, several teams or the whole organization.
If you're interested in having a look at our OKR platform:
One thing I haven't touched on yet: The same iteration cycle that organizations go through ideally applies to employees as well. Truly agile leaders strive to improve themselves on a continuous basis - just as organizations do. The flexible labeling and visibility settings make the OKR module a viable solution for learning goals as well: Set the objective to private, label it as "learning" and voilà - you can use it as your own personal platform to improve based on the personal feedback you received e.g. in your Loop Now upward
Author: Christian Kaller