Why Every Good OKR Tool Should Track Dependencies

Posted by Simon on Jun 20, 2019 9:21:02 AM

When we collaborate across teams on projects there are many pitfalls and challenges that can result in failure. A study for the Harvard Business Review found that 75% of cross functional teams are dysfunctional. Problems can arise as a result of poor communication around specifications of a project and around the alignment of the company's corporate goals.

According to the study, those projects that did succeed tended to have oversight by a high level team, and cross-functional teams that failed were those that perpetuated silos, resulting in communication barriers that eventually led to poor outcomes.

Adoption of an OKR tool can help break down cross-functional team silos as members of all teams have access to the progress and updates of the goals that make up a particular project.

As individuals set their own goals as part of a wider project, they tend to align their goals to a higher level goal owned by the team or department that owns the project. This makes it easy for individuals responsible for oversight of the project to see when aligned goals become at risk of not completing. However, those individuals and teams doing work that depends on outcomes in other departments and teams are not always immediately aware when things don't go to plan. This can lead to delayed action and lost opportunity of teams collaborating to overcome the problems.

OKR tools that support dependencies give goal owners the ability to define any other goals in the organization that they depend on, in order to achieve the goals they have committed to.

The moment a dependent goal becomes at risk of not completing, goal owners depending on that goal will be notified, giving them the maximum amount of time to get involved in discussions and remedial action to help ensure a backup plan can be developed.

Some argue that expressing dependencies on other goals in OKR is a way to avoid accountability, but in the real world dependencies exists and its much better that problems are communicated instantly to those that need to know.


Simon Bates is CEO of Workteam, an OKR-based Goal Management System for businesses of all sizes with a focus on growing employee engagement. Visit http://workte.am to find out how it can benefit your organization.

Topics: Corporate alignment, Employee Engagement, okr

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