In Photo: Vaidyanathan Ramalingam, Founder & CEO, OKR Stars™ and Skills2Talent™ SaaS companies, Bengaluru, India.
This blog is about my personal experience as an individual (Vaidya). Having worked for global programs at Intel I was under a matrix structure with multiple functional divisions that were distributed across USA (Chandler – Arizona), India (Bengaluru), Malaysia (Penang, Kulim and Cyberjaya), China (Chengdu and Pudong), Costa Rica (San Jose).
Happy to share my hands on experience on OKRs & CFR in global programs while working at Intel R&D Center, Bengaluru, India (Dec 2004- Mar 2007).
Let’s start with History of OKR
In 1975, John Doerr, at Intel, attended a course by Andy Grove where he was introduced to the theory of OKRs, then called “iMBOs” for “Intel Management by Objectives”. In 1999, Doerr, introduced the idea of OKRs to a start-up Kleiner Perkins had invested in . Doerr published Measure What Matters in 2017. Larry Page, the CEO of Alphabet and co-founder of , credited OKRs within the foreword to Doerr’s book: “OKRs have helped lead us to 10× growth. Since becoming popular at , OKRs have found favor with several other similar tech start-up organizations including , LinkedIn, Twitter, Uber and Microsoft.
Ref: Wikipedia ©
What are OKR and CFR and their relationship in Goal management
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) drive ambitious goals of companies to achieve. While Conversations, Feedback and Recognition (CFR) enable continuous performance and people engagement.
Guidelines for “Managers Basics” and it’s importance of Intel Core Values alignment
As part of mandatory training programs, I got the training on Intel Core Values at Bengaluru, India and also attended several training programs at Intel University at Malaysia, US locations. Be it business decisions, day to day email communications, display at meeting rooms, workspace, ID Card (core values printed on rear side), or during performance appraisal conversations everywhere Intel Core Values is often used, mentioned and encouraged to demonstrate.
Our OKRs (iMBO) approach helped us to translate the strategies in to actions across programs. Otherwise it would not have been possible considering the complexities of the R&D, manufacturing and global workforce.
So much of travel for F2F meetings across worldwide facilities to meet internal customers, cross functional stakeholders to build personal yet official rapport to ensure alignment at Objective, Key Results, Projects and at Tasks levels.
Conversations, Feedback and Recognition was very visible considering the # meetings held, culture of 1:1s (matrix / direct reporting), awesome recognition practices with heavy budgets perhaps!.
Differences between OKRs Vs the earlier popular goal management practices.
Many of us have the question, why Intel’s so called iMBO (Intel Management by Objectives was the origination of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and how is this different than the earlier goal management. You can quickly watch the below quick video to know the differences between SMART Goals Vs OKRs and practical examples from OKRstars SaaS.
Transform strategy into action – Best known methods
Organization OKRs: Any strategies always had their vision, mission and values alignment. CEO -1, -2, -3 … etc i.e., Divisions/Groups aligned their vision and mission statements which eventually became OKRs with their scope with quarterly priorities and followed Intel Product Life cycle processes etc.
Department OKRs: Since I was working in R&D, my role was systems engineer and My JD was to align with internal customer’s OKRs (charters/roadmap/project plan) and do check-ins every 2 weeks. So many meetings 24/7 used to be there but, depending on time zone we join to clarify check-ins.
Individual OKRs: At an individual level the OKRs were typically at project and task levels and not as strategic OKRs. They had traceability to which OKRs they were aligned. Also the individuals had liberty to own stretch goals to support others’ (skip level) OKRs after mutual discussions.
True alignment & initiatives – Best known methods
Alignment as a culture: Actually the alignment is there everywhere, whether it is the organization OKRs alignment or Core Values alignment while mentioning the achievements in recognition/awards, map day (alignment meeting) sessions to discuss Strategic OKRs to Projects to Tasks alignment etc.
Risk and Dependencies: Every OKR planner and tracker known as charter plan, program tracker, project plan, integration plan etc. always include the Risk, Dependencies and their mitigation plans. So that the confidence level grading during check-ins will be clear and transparent to all members involved in that SoW.
Initiatives showcase: Intel recognize and celebrates the engineering excellence from initiatives/innovations/stretch goals at USA every year known as IMEC. I was fortunate to be selected for my program’s abstract/paper to showcase at Hyatt, San Diego, California on June 25-28 sponsored by Intel TMG.
CFR practices – Best known methods
I would re-call that everyone knows everyone and could possibly recognize by Face as well. So many meetings, clarity on decisions, 1:1s, townhall meetings, weekly team updates and the global travels/con-calls etc. As OKRs are always transparent the progress, the grades, and check-ins status were available across the team.
Feedback in public, private or in a joint meetings were very normal. When it comes to quarterly OKR priorities, annual OKR plans (road-map) or tactical project or tasks, the feedback culture was there. I would also say, more number of 1:1s I had was at Intel for programs, platforms, projects, and personal i.e., Focal (PMS at Intel)
Any recognition always had aligned to Core Values. The recognizing culture and budget to managers were in place. CFR is the human part of OKR (or) known as twin sisters by John Doerr. Be it an instant award ($10 USD), group / division or at corporate award it was like you are encouraged to stretch and deliver with aspirational OKRs.
You may refer our detailed information with examples on our repository.