How a combined Agile OKR approach can deliver excellent results

Team work on interactive board to create a combined Agile OKR approach

A robust strategy is the key to success for many businesses and organisations. 

Clearly defined strategy helps set the direction for a business, on which goals and actions can be based. 

A lack of strategic direction can be a big problem for a business, especially if its employees have no idea what the business is setting out to achieve.

Two key practices that can help businesses set and implement their strategies are Agile and OKR. 

While some businesses may favour one approach over the other, both can work together successfully within your business.

Learn more about Agile OKR and how this combined approach could be used to transform your business.

The origins of the Agile method

Agile was first adopted by the software development industry, an approach that allows companies to deliver to their customers and cope with unpredictable challenges and competing demands. 

An Agile approach to projects serves as an alternative to the Waterfall method, which was (and still is) used by many businesses and organisations.

The Waterfall model

The Waterfall model is a linear approach to project management, dating back to the 1970s, where projects are divided into different phases, with each phase only beginning when the previous ends. 

This is typically viewed as a rigid approach, which doesn’t allow for flexibility or changes, and is based on the assumption that everything will go according to plan. 

Approaches like Agile, Scrum and OKR provide a modern alternative that takes into account the complex nature of businesses today.

Understanding OKRs

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), is a type of framework that helps businesses set strategic goals, with clear steps for how to achieve them. 

OKRs allow organisations to set specific objectives, while the key results are the metrics that establish how the objectives will be met. 

The OKR Method is a useful free guide to understanding OKRs and how they can be used within your business.

What are the differences between Agile and OKR?

While Agile and OKR both serve as frameworks for achieving business goals, there are differences between the two approaches – each serving a different purpose for organisations.

Agile

  • A project management tool that sets the direction for teams in a way that is flexible and adaptable according to changing requirements. 
  • Teams working on an Agile basis work in phases known as Sprints, which happen over a defined period.
  • The purpose of Agile isn’t to set a defined outcome, it outlines the method for which a project should be undertaken, instead focusing on the outputs.
  • Agile depends on a team working together, usually with three or more people working on a project.

OKR

  • A way of setting strategic, results-based objectives for businesses and individuals.
  • OKRs are generally set over a longer-term period, such as yearly or quarterly goals.
  • have a clear objective with conditions for how that objective will be met. They are focused on outcomes.
  • OKRs can be set by individuals, teams and the wider organisation to establish different goals.

What are the similarities between Agile and OKR?

Despite their differences, Agile and OKR also have several similarities.

  • Both are transparent approaches.
  • Meetings and progress updates are essential to both practices to keep things on track.
  • Both involve a coordinated approach, requiring collaboration to help deliver the outputs and outcomes associated with the respective processes.
  • Each approach is flexible, allowing approaches to adapt depending on changing priorities and the effectiveness of different tasks.

Transforming strategy with a combined Agile OKR approach

While OKR and Agile each have their strengths and benefits, when used together they can improve operations and help employees focus on the bigger picture and manage what matters.

Instead of having two competing frameworks, Agile OKR approaches complement each other. 

An Agile project working within organisational OKRs, for example, will ensure teams have a better understanding of what their work contributes to, instead of just focusing on the task at hand. 

This allows businesses to adopt a transparent and flexible approach to their operations, breaking business objectives down into managed sprints that undertake work that helps deliver outlined company goals.

The benefits of combining Agile with OKR

There are many benefits that come with the Agile OKR approach, including:

  • Agile OKR can help strengthen business outcomes, thanks to the constant testing and flexibility created by the Agile approach, combined with the consistent goal-setting and measurement approach of OKR.
  • OKRs can help with task prioritisation, ensuring tasks are focused on achieving the key results. With Agile focused on making continuous improvements to products and services, OKRs will help ensure that the improvements only add value to the defined objectives.
  • Agile OKR can help ensure meetings are more productive and create alignment between teams. With all teams and individuals working toward overall company goals, productivity can increase thanks to greater awareness of what the business is trying to achieve.
  • Agile OKR - how OKRs can be integrated into Scrum principles
    Learn more about the ways OKRs can help Scrum teams to focus on business value.
  • This in turn leads to more productive meetings, which have a clear purpose – avoiding the meeting fatigue that many people can experience during Agile sprints.

Strengthen your business’ Agile approach with OKRs and 1OV

Combining Agile with OKRs is a process that many businesses are using to help them better focus their strategic aims, add value and align teams and individuals with organisational goals. 

For businesses that are used to Agile ways of working, adding OKRs to the mix can be complex. But that’s where we come in.

At 1ovmany, we specialise in business transformation of all kinds, and possess a unique skillset capable of helping organisations exert the benefits of Agile ways of working and OKRs together, to yield maximum value. 

We can help create strategies and provide training and guidance that will aid their implementation across your organisation. 

Our Client Transformation Partners are Certified OKR experts, working alongside a team of Certified Agile Consultants, helping to improve business processes and ensuring your customers are at the heart of what you do.

For more information, explore our OKR services or connect with us to see how we can help transform your business.

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