How Agile and OKRs work together?

Published On: August 10, 2021|Categories: Objective and Key Results|

How Agile and OKRs work together?

Published On: August 10, 2021|

How do agile software development and OKRs work together?

 Team alignment and focus are important to all organizations, irrespective of their size. While the organizations operate in an agile environment, it’s important that the teams are empowered with the right data and enable them in decision making.

 What Is Agile?

 Agile is a software management methodology. It is based on the Agile manifesto pioneered by fourteen prevalent figures in the software industry. It was created in response to the incompetence of the Waterfall model towards the change in customer requirements and market conditions. While the Waterfall model is static, Agile teams adopt an iterative methodology. The aim of the Agile model is to deploy the right product with frequent and incremental delivery of small bits of functionality through compact cross-functional, self-organizing teams. This enables constant guidance through customer feedback and course correction when needed. Scrum and Kanban are the two popular subsets of agile methodology.

What is OKR?

 OKR has a bit of stretch in the management history, as it was introduced in the 1970s by Andy Grove, a holocaust survivor when he joined Intel at its fledgling stage. He transformed Intel for the better using his management method called OKR or Objectives and Key Results. But OKR was still not widely adapted then. It was only after John Doer used Groves method and revolutionized companies like Apple and Google, OKR attained its popularity and was adopted by various other large companies. OKR is now employed in companies such as Twitter, Spotify, Linkedin, Dropbox, GE, etc.

OKR and Agile are not only compatible with each other, they should work together.

OKR and Agile are two of the most popular management philosophies in the tech world, with huge historical and contemporary impacts on how organizations function. Comparing both philosophies can create controversy in the community because of their antithetical ideas, but at the same time with their coinciding functionalities. Let’s say an organization has four different layers stacked one over another – culture, strategy, tactics, and operations; with goals pervading all these layers. This is where OKR and agile teams meet their similarities and differences.

To understand Agile philosophy, we need first to understand the traditional or Waterfall methodology. In the Waterfall method, an organization works on developing a large product in linear subsequent phases and delivering it at the end of it, which takes a significant amount of time. The downfall of this method in the software industry is that during this long period of time, the customer requirements frequently change, resulting in wrong products that do not fit customers then prevalent requirements being delivered, which in turn results in customer dissatisfaction. The Waterfall model sets goals that are static. These static goals are negatively affected by changing market conditions, fluctuating customer requirements, and static plans that are set in advance, disregarding the probability of change.

OKR methodology, in a simple context, is a method where the objectives or what an organization wants to achieve are stated clearly, and the key results along with how they can get to their organizational goals are identified and measured. OKR can be used quarterly and also for a large time frame basis. Most low-level employees are kept in the dark regarding the company goals that they are working towards. Using OKR, everyone in the organization can know what the goals are, what are the priorities, and what can be seen as posteriority for the organization. How these goals and priorities are measured also plays a critical role. All this amounts to the OKR’s ability to set goals from top-bottom (which is linear goal-setting) and bottom-top (which is nonlinear goal-setting).

Measure what matters!

How does OKR Fill the Gap In Agile Teams?

OKR, which focuses on end priority and daily required output, aligns well with the process and feedback-oriented Agile. The agile community believes that the only solution for organizations with regard to changing market and customer requirements is to focus on mindset shifts.

But mindset shift alone cannot help these conditions. They need practical action like in their processes and systems. OKR Agile teams benefit from the actionable business agility with the goal framework tools that it brings to the table.

Most of the time, startups trying to adopt agile get stale as a feature factory organization rather than a business problem solving or value-driven organization. Agile is a process focused on managing the deliverables without having a holistic view of the end goal. No energy in Agile goes into tracking the value or result of the effort. The scaling framework of Agile is not efficient. You cannot track features that deliver value and the ones that don’t effectively. Thus with Agile alone, you are missing out on the bigger context. The big difference between the traditional method and OKR is that OKR is bidirectional rather than just cascading down enabling businesses to set their goal in alignment with their process.

In a top-down model of the traditional method(Waterfall), setting goals can take 4 to six months because of the blocker in the lower levels of employees, which is not Agile. Our goals are transparent, and you can start implementing from anywhere, which is Agile.

Focus on delivering value. Enable autonomous teams with OKR and Agile.

Closing thoughts

OKR Agile methodology combined can complement each other and fill the gaps in Agile such as in scaling the results, having clarity in the end goal rather than just focusing on the minute changes, etc. OKR Agile means that your organization has a scalable, transparent management system. You can now partner up with Datalligence and fill up the gaps in your Agile team. Drive 10X growth now. Try our OKR product for free and get to know its effectiveness first hand.

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