"The Forgotten Cousin of OKR That Could Make It 10x Better: Incentives and Alignment"

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Nov 09, 2023

3 min read


"The Forgotten Cousin of OKR That Could Make It 10x Better: Incentives and Alignment"

When it comes to setting goals and measuring success, many organizations turn to the widely popular OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework. However, despite its widespread adoption, there is a crucial aspect that often gets overlooked - the connection between individual work and the company's goals. This gap in OKR's effectiveness has led many to question its true value and potential for improvement.

One of the main issues with OKR is its failure to capture how an individual's work directly contributes to the overall goals of the organization. This lack of alignment can leave employees feeling disconnected from the bigger picture and unsure of how their efforts fit into the company's roadmap for success. Without a clear understanding of how their work impacts the organization, employees may perceive OKR as nothing more than an additional administrative task that brings no tangible benefits.

This is where incentives come into play. Incentives have long been recognized as one of the most powerful forces in the world, capable of driving behavior and shaping outcomes. Unlike calculators, human beings are storytellers who rely on narratives to make sense of the world around them. Incentives provide the narrative that simplifies complex problems into a few simple sentences, allowing individuals to understand and navigate their environment more effectively.

While financial incentives can certainly be motivating, it is often the cultural and tribal incentives that have a more profound impact on behavior. People are driven by a desire to belong and be accepted by their social group, which can lead them to support certain actions or behaviors simply to avoid upsetting or being banished from their community. These cultural and tribal incentives are incredibly seductive and can influence even the most well-intentioned individuals to engage in behavior that may seem irrational or contradictory.

When examining the power of incentives, it becomes clear that OKR could benefit greatly from incorporating this aspect into its framework. By aligning individual incentives with the company's goals, organizations can not only foster a sense of purpose and belonging among employees but also ensure that their efforts are directed towards the desired outcomes. This integration of incentives and alignment can help bridge the gap between individual work and company goals, making OKR a more effective tool for driving success.

So, how can organizations leverage this insight to enhance their use of OKR? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Foster a culture of transparency and communication: By openly discussing the company's goals and how individual work contributes to them, organizations can create a sense of clarity and purpose. This transparency allows employees to see the direct link between their efforts and the desired outcomes, motivating them to align their work with the company's objectives.
  • 2. Incorporate individual incentives into the OKR framework: Instead of solely focusing on the outcome-based key results, organizations should consider incorporating individual incentives that align with the company's goals. This can be achieved through recognition programs, career development opportunities, or other non-financial incentives that resonate with employees' values and aspirations.
  • 3. Continuously evaluate and iterate on the OKR process: OKR is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and organizations should be willing to adapt and refine the framework to meet their unique needs. Regularly assessing the effectiveness of OKR in capturing alignment and incorporating incentives can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that the framework remains relevant and impactful.

In conclusion, while OKR has gained significant popularity as a goal-setting framework, its true potential can only be realized by addressing the crucial aspect of incentives and alignment. By incorporating individual incentives into the OKR process and fostering a culture of transparency and communication, organizations can enhance the effectiveness of OKR and empower employees to contribute meaningfully to the company's success. Remember, incentives are a powerful force, and when harnessed effectively, they can make OKR 10 times better.

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