Black Swan event, Covid19 pandemic has caused colossal damage to lives and livelihoods and also placed organisations (for profit and non-profit), under a huge cloud of uncertainty.
Uncertainty plays out in different ways in terms of business impact and timelines: elasticity of demand, securing supply lines, managing working capital to fundamentally altering the business landscape. This also varies dramatically across industries and geographies which accentuates the impact for global conglomerates. The uncertainty has not impacted all the businesses negatively. As we have witnessed some industries have seen their business on the upswing in the current crisis; like medical equipment manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and firms in digital space. In industries like consumer essentials and insurance, there has been a temporary spurt, while long-term it is likely to be muted. In most other cases like Manufacturing, automobile industries, businesses have been paused completely.
This dramatically changes the short-term and long-term priorities for the organisation. For instance, an executive I chatted with said that his priority now is to conserve cash by limiting all capital expenses and keep the digital arm of the business active.
So how does OKRs help in these times of uncertainty?. It helps us to review, set/reset and track goals in a regular cadence.
- Firstly, set the objectives afresh acknowledging the new and changed reality. Old goals, old bonuses are no longer relevant.
- Secondly, when you set the new goals, do it the participative and inclusive manner – as always with OKRs. This will showcase employee empathy and also provide a sense of direction to your employees which is critical in these trying times.
- Thirdly, while OKRs are typically set for a quarter, given the current times, go for shorter cadences say 30 or 45 days which will be ideal in these volatile times.
- Fourth, use OKR planning as an opportunity to operationalise the strategy shift which may be been necessitated due to the new business landscape – which is possibly more digital, with reviewing and prioritising the business lines
All of these can provide a holistic view for businesses to calm the nerves, reprioritise the business to achieve success in the short term and provide a direction for medium term.
Those organisations which are Agile, leverage OKRs and thus able to manoeuvre the change to seize the new opportunities and navigate the challenges, will survive this uncertainty and get better.