OKRs and continuous improvement cycles

You always define your goals based on the results of the past period and the forecasts of the future market, right? If you already use OKRs, you know that it is essential to apply continuous improvement cycles in order to achieve increasingly relevant objectives. It is also important that you are challenged by your goals and also that you are able to measure their success.

Knowing this, I want you to reflect: have you really improved your goals? Are you satisfied with their evolution?

Well, the answer I will leave with you and I hope it can bring you some new insights. And here, I’ll tell you how we apply continuous improvement to our goals.

The PDCA Cycle

First of all, it is necessary to understand the PDCA cycle, which is the most used continuous improvement cycle in the world, bringing spectacular results to the companies that use it.

The first stage of the cycle is the planning (P – Plan) where you must focus first on identifying the problem you want to solve. After the problem is identified, you must find out what is the root cause of it, that is, what really causes the problem. And then, plan what will be done to eliminate this root cause.

D – Do (also known as execution) is the stage where you will get your hands dirty and carry out the planned. Remember to write down the results and insights you had during the execution.

The third step is when we are going to analyze what was executed (C – Check). Interpret the data obtained, where it has improved, where it has worsened, what are the opportunities, etc.

Finally, it is time to act (A – Act). Disseminate the results and what will be the action plan to solve the problems encountered.

Applying the PDCA to the continuous improvement of your goals

As I said at the beginning of the text, our analysis will be carried out based on OKRs, which is the most appropriate strategy management methodology to bring above-average results for companies around the world.

When you have your goals outlined and the key results to achieve them, you have the tools at hand to apply continuous improvement. To plan, use the baggage from previous years, and its results as a way of knowing the problem and identifying the causes.

Why were some previously defined goals not achieved, while others were? Were the objectives clear to the team, showing what should be done? Are we measuring correctly? Do the metrics indicate the success of my goal? What is the perception of my employees about our goals and results?

I used some examples of questions you can ask in order to go deeper and deeper into the root cause. The deeper you go, the closer you are to solving the problem. It is important to note that it will not be in the first cycle that you will identify and solve everything, the improvement is continuous!

Once the causes are identified, plan their execution, create new objectives and new metrics (your key results – KRs). Run, check, and create new action plans. At each OKR cycle, try to carry out this practice with your team and always analyzing if your results and objectives are evolving.

You can find several other tools and methodologies that will assist you in applying continuous improvement. And many of them are great and will definitely help you a lot. But when using them, remember: Plan, Execute, Check the data obtained and create an Action Plan to improve their application, their objectives, and key results.

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