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OKR - Experiences from a bottom up approach

OKRs From the bottom up

During a "hack week" with some of my teams, we wanted to increase the focus on the work that we were doing. After brainstorming different topics and ideas, we decided that we wanted to try out with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to set goals for our teams.

Traditionally, OKRs have been implemented top-down, but we didn’t want to wait. Instead, we decided to experiment and start it within the teams as we called “from the bottom up”.

Setting the stage

To start, we introduced the OKR framework to three teams, along with best practices and recommendations for creating meaningful objectives and measurable key results. After the introduction, we organised a workshop to agree on the experiment's duration, which was set at three months in our case, providing us sufficient time to assess our objectives within that timeframe. At the end of each workshop, we had a fresh set of objectives and key results for each team.


During the three-month period, we scheduled recurrent checkpoints every two weeks to share and evaluate progress in the form of being on track, delayed, or potentially incomplete. This helped maintain high levels of motivation and commitment.


Finally, at the end of the three months, we held a retrospective to assess the success of the OKR process and celebrate progress made in achieving key results. As part of the evaluation, we asked, "Do we want to continue with OKRs?" The response was positive, and we have been using OKRs for one year now.

The good things

One benefit of implementing OKRs from the bottom-up is that teams can set their own objectives, which are more likely to be meaningful and engaging. This can lead to increased engagement, empowerment among team members, and a sense of shared responsibility towards achieving objectives.

The Risks

However, starting from the bottom also poses challenges. It is essential to ensure that objectives align with the organization's overall goals to avoid misalignment and working on the wrong things. Additionally, tracking and measuring progress can be difficult, as teams may be in different stages of measurement and evaluation, which may require investing time in metrics before creating measurable key results. Creating valuable OKRs takes time, so several iterations may be necessary to get it right.


In summary, implementing OKRs from the bottom-up can increase engagement and empowerment, but it is crucial to ensure alignment with the organization's overall goals and be patient through the learning curve required to create valuable OKRs. This investment of time is worth it in the end because it increases focus and motivates teams with a sense of working together towards a common goal.

Have you tried OKRs? What are your thoughts on OKRs from the bottom-up approach?

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