OpenExO Live with Natalia Gulchevskaya | OKR's are vital for ExO's
I had the privilege of being invited to join Kevin Allen on OpenExO Live, a weekly live show that offers an insider's view into the OpenExO community. I was thrilled to discuss my own path into this vibrant community and share insights into how I've been using Exponential Organizations (ExO) principles and OKR strategies in my work.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you joined the OpenExO community?
I've always been a fan of science fiction, dreaming of living in the world of the future. I dream for a world where there are no wars and borders, where human intellect collaborate with artificial intelligence, and humanity evolves into a multi-planetary species. This passion has driven me to choose career paths and interests that help move our world towards a brighter future.

To contribute to this vision, I assist businesses in their growth, helping them to setup and achieve ambitious goals and at the same time, developing a culture of respect, transparency, and teamwork. These are the transformative effects of implementing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).

Thanks to OKR I learned about exponential organizations.

In 2018, we were tasked with conducting a two-day session for 120 team leaders from a large travel corporation. The goal was to establish OKRs for their teams, which first required identifying growth drivers and setting OKRs based on them.

The organizers gave us the book by Salim Ismail and suggested that the growth drivers should be identified in accordance with the principles and attributes stated in the book. This opened up an entirely new world for me! I found the book deeply inspiring, and it fundamentally shifted my perspective of view.

Since then, I've frequently incorporated the concept of exponential organizations into my courses for business leaders and strategic sessions.

Therefore, when I discovered the ExO community, I started with the articles on the site, and soon enough, I decided to join the community, where I met many interesting and inspiring people.

At present, my aspiration is to contribute to an ExO sprint team, where I can share my OKR expertise and make some meaningful impact.

How are you leveraging the ExO thinking in your coaching and training work?
Leveraging ExO thinking in my work has truly been a game changer. As a coach and trainer, I'm not just teaching concepts; I want to facilitate transformative change within organizations, helping them to adopt an exponential mindset.
Through the OKR framework that aligns with ExO thinking, I assist organizations in identifying drivers of their exponential growth, setting clear aspirational goals, and establishing a regular, transparent, and collaborative process to reach them
Within the Dashboards attribute we often speak about leveraging OKR’s, this is something you have been helping people with for some time. Why would you say OKR’s are Vital for a successful ExO?
First, let me remind you what OKR is.
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results.OKR is a strategic execution framework that empowers organizations and teams with agility, focus, and alignment to drive progress toward clear and ambitious objectives and key results.

It is also a continuous discipline and communication culture that encourages employees to be actively involved in setting goals, measuring progress, celebrating success and learning from challenges.

So, OKR isn't just about dashboards. It's much broader than that. In fact, I shared in details with the ExO community how OKR as a system, as a framework, provides the implementation of internal ExO attributes. The recording is available for all community members - and if you haven't joined us yet, maybe this can be a great reason to join?

OKR is necessary to manage strategic change toward your Massive Transformative Purpose, and to keep that MTP alive, because Every quarter in the planning session, you revisit your strategy and MTP to revise and set up new OKRs for the next quarter.

OKRs encourage companies to focus their effort on a few key areas that will have the biggest impact potential. And align all teams with this focus, ensuring that everyone is moving in the same direction. This is essential for an ExO.

Returning to dashboards, OKRs create a culture of transparency where everyone's objectives and key results are visible. This allows teams to understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the organization, fostering a sense of ownership and purpose, which is important for the collaborative culture of an ExO.
Finally, the implementation of OKR provides agility, allowing for quick course corrections and rapid adaptation to a fast-changing landscape. This characteristic is vital for an ExO's survival and growth.
How do you share why people should use OKRs?
Primarily, the purpose of implementing OKRs is to drive strategic changes, to catalyze exponential growth.

By setting aspirational Objectives and stretching Key Results, focusing on them and aligning efforts of all team to them - organizasions will achieve significant expansion.

Moreover, OKRs shift the employees' mindset from merely focusing on processes to being result-oriented, thus fostering a culture of accountability and performance.

Furthermore, OKRs are not top-down mandates. They are set by teams themselves, fostering vertical and horizontal coordination. This empowers employees, increasing their initiative, awareness, responsibility, and maturity within the organization.
While there are numerous benefits to using OKRs, I can list for a long time, and each organization finds its own, the key to maximizing these benefits lies in properly setting up the OKR as a system based on fundamental principles, and maintaining ongoing discipline in its application.

Where do you start. So many people want to find a platform for their OKRs first… how do you suggest people start?
Indeed, there's a common misconception that just by finding the right software, you can easily set and achieve big goals. However, that's far from the truth. While software can be a useful tool for larger companies with complex structures, truly primary is the OKR framework itself - properly set up and regularly maintained.
Think of it like morning exercises - the effects only show if you do it consistently. Therefore, having a dedicated team of internal OKR coaches within the company is much more important than the software itself.
I usually recommend starting with an evolutionary approach under the guidance of an external consultant who has experience working with many different companies. At first, a simple spreadsheet might be enough. After going through a few cycles of manual tracking, you'll understand how the system adapts with your specific needs, and what software requirements you need.
There are dozens of applications on the market for managing OKRs. I won't name any specifically during this broadcast to avoid overlooking others, but a simple Google search will give you plenty of options. When you're ready to explore these, I suggest discussing with the software providers your actual needs - based on your lived experience with a spreadsheet.

What are the first three steps you would recommend to start implementing OKR?
First step - is a Pilot Team Education: Initiate the process with the OKR education of the Pilot team, usually the leadership team. This should be a practical learning experience, involving the setting up of their real OKRs.

Second - Assign an Internal OKR Coach: The coach will hold the OKR process, conducting weekly check-ins to monitor progress and leading a retrospective at the end of each cycle.

Third, Complete One Cycle First: Before rolling out OKRs to the broader organization, ensure at least one cycle is completed with the pilot team. This iterative approach give you a smoother, more effective implementation across the organization.

What is it that you would like to share with folks watching as we end off the call today?
I'd like to share a simple OKR formula that's not just for organizations, but can also be applied to our daily lives.

Ask yourself 3 questions:
1. What long-term goals do I want to achieve? What is my own Massive Transformative Purpose?
2. What immediate changes should I focus on in the next few months to help me reach these long-term goals and MTP?
3. How can I measure my success?

Remember to ask yourself these questions periodically. You'll be amazed at how they can enhance the quality of your life.

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