OKR vs. Howwe
OKRs have grown to become highly popular as organizations crave a supportive method for figuring out how to stay aligned and competitive through the disruptions associated with today’s fast-paced business climate. Join us as we dig into the core of OKRs whilst comparing it to the Howwe Way of Working.
What is OKR?
OKR is an acronym for Objectives and Key Results. OKR is a goal-setting framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes, with the purpose of aligning goals and ensuring everyone is working together on the right goals. It’s both a way to structure goals and a goal management methodology where it’s up to the adopting organization to chose their approach. Many turn to OKR softwares and other use more traditional means of implementing the method.
A short history of OKRs
The history of OKR is around seventy years old. In 1954, Peter Drucker invented the management model Management by Objectives (MBO). In 1968 Andrew Grove co-founded Intel Corporation and at the same time furthered developed MBO into the OKR framework as we know it today.
John Doerr joined Intel in 1974 and learned OKR during his time there. In 1999 he introduced OKR to the founders of Google and they were swift to implement the method in the company and making it a part of their DNA. In 2013, Rick Klau covers the value of setting objectives and key results in a Google venture startup lab and the method really takes off. Since then, more and more companies like Adobe, Facebook, and Slack have started working with the OKR model. Today, thousands of companies worldwide have adopted the framework.
History of OKR 1954 – TODAY
The difference between OKRs and Howwe?
OKR - Objectives
Great for high achievers.
Objectives in OKR are by definition significant, concrete, and action-orientated. There is normally between 3-5 objectives. When they are properly executed – they are a major force that gives great results.
Howwe® - Most Important Goals
Harder prioritization steering the focus on what’s most important.
A Most Important Goal (MIG) indicates the top priority a team, department, or company wants to achieve. A team has a maximum of two MIGs at any time, all of which aim to reinforce the overarching company’s MIGs.
OKR - Key results per Objective
Key results are milestones to reach the main objective. There is normally between 3 – 5 key results per objective. A key result contains a metric with a start and end value. A common mistake can be that objectives and key results are confused and end up being just goals.
Howwe® - Key Activities per Most Important Goals
Key Activities is all about choosing the right activities that directly influence the Most Important Goal. There are usually between 2-3 activities per Most Important Goal. The difference between Key Activities and other daily tasks or activities is that a Key Activity corresponds directly to the MIG.
OKR - Number of objectives and key results
With OKR’s the number of Objectives can span from 3-5 and the number of and Key Results from 9-25.
Howwe® - Number of Most Important Goals and Key Activities
In Howwe the number of MIGs never exceed 2, and the number of Key Activities 6.
OKR - Follow up
It is up to every department, team, or employee when and how to have the follow-ups. Usually, it occurs on a quarterly or monthly basis.
Howwe® - Acceleration meeting
Stand-ups following a short, but strict, agenda where the team reflects on the result of their Key Activity and discusses future actions in pursuit of the Most Important Goal. Everyone takes commitments, creating transparency and boosting engagement and team spirit.
According to science
There’s an inverse relationship between the number of goals that you have and the number of goals that you can succeed with. This graph breaks it down into numbers. Research shows that with 10 goals, you succeed with none. With two set goals, you will achieve both of them.
Two similar methods with two different outcomes
Most organizations act in a whirlwind of activities, to-do’s, and priorities. Both OKRs and the Three Disciplines of Acceleration used in Howwe (also called the Howwe Way of Working) encourage the user to rethink their way of working, for the better. Both methods share the same goal: to help managers and employees cut through this whirlwind and focus on achieving goals. Both frameworks and their disciplines help managers and teams set expectations and goals and, foremost, execute strategy. Both help achieve clarity of intent, focus, alignment, and engagement. Both are relatively easy to master and result in improved execution. The similarities and benefits are many.
The difference is found in the how
The methods share many similarities, but there are also a few differences. The main difference is found in the how; how OKR and Howwe structure the process of strategy execution. Howwe creates proven and measurable acceleration and financial increase.
The Howwe Way of Working also adds an extra dimension, in its third discipline, where transparent follow-up and commitments are in focus, ultimately affecting the long-term accountability and spurs relentlessness in execution. This includes accounting for the past and planning for the future.
This happens in Acceleration Meetings with a cadence that is significantly tighter than suggested with OKRs where the cadence is more connected to yearly or quarterly closings. Our experience, supported by research, shows that longer time spans make it harder for people to stay engaged with their goals. We are only humans, and our minds (and calendars) tend to get cluttered, leading to a loss of focus. Acceleration meetings keep employees on track. It gives the team a chance to assess their achievements, celebrate progress, and together commit to future activities driving progress on the goals. It also gives managers the chance to correct misalignment before becoming a real problem.
We believe in measurable results
All Howwe customers have a proven acceleration and measurable financial improvement. Starting with a business case, the proven and measurable increase runs like a red thread on a daily, weekly and annual basis. The combined method and software in Howwe create actionable and measurable goals (and financial results) on all levels of the organization. Some claim OKR lacks connection to measurable financial results, putting the focus on the present rather than the future. We set goals, but what actually happens? What difference have you actually achieved?
A major benefit of using software to incorporate the methodology is the possibility to aggregate the data. This is something organizations using Excel never will be able to do equally well. With Howwe, the organization gets historical data on the progress of all activities and goals. Visualizing the results opens up valuable insights about the future as well as the past. Visualizing the team’s achievements and progress towards the goals increases self-confidence on both an individual and team level. It is also proven to have a major positive impact on eNPS.
We proudly claim Howwe is a true top-down, bottom-up tool. That entails great power of acceleration, making it even more important to measure and prove progress. There’s no need to accelerate in the wrong direction. With too many KPIs, managers tend to run in different directions and this effect intensifies the further away from the management we get. Focus is lost. Without a software that guides you to clearly defined and measurable activities connected to the goals, friction to reality is lost too. This is the experience of some using OKRs.
Time to result is another factor that differs. With Howwe, onboarding is quick and fully automated, drastically shortening the time to result. OKRs, particularly without system support, can result in a long implementation period and a large consultancy spend.
The reason why customers using Howwe achieve unparalleled results is it gets the CEOs to prioritize the two most important goals. Not more. This means that when the goals are reached, the core business problems usually are solved. By getting these goals actionable throughout the whole organization, the work is accelerated and the time to result much faster.
A method for the average organization and employee
OKRs is a method that has proven itself successful among high achievers for generations. It offers high achieving individuals and teams space to define their own priorities and goals where the teams keep each other accountable for the goals they set. These types of organizations and teams usually find OKRs effective, fun, and engaging. But to be honest, not every company has the high-achieving personalities needed to fully succeed with OKRs, the high-achievers associated with Google and the like, that are outspoken supporters of OKRs.
With OKRs, you measure your desired outcomes. But only measuring them does not mean you will achieve them. That’s why the Key Activities in Howwe are proving themselves highly efficient as they, week in and week out, guide the employees to fulfill their most prioritized activities. With OKRs, there tend to be many objectives and key results to steer and measures on (between 9-25) which becomes challenging for most teams, even the high-achieving ones. Objectives and key results often tend to end up being just goals and goals, resulting in a lack of a ”how”. Without a commitment process, less motivated employees might not fully commit. It’s only if the method evokes long-term behavior change that the results will remain high over time.
When implemented right, OKRs can be very efficient. Some seem to fail when it comes to making the objectives and key results clear enough. If it’s not clear, it won’t happen. Howwe is built to encourage all users to formulate a clear and measurable activity, clearly guiding every employee in the same direction – towards the most important goal. And maybe most importantly, you do this together, as a team. We sometimes see OKRs used as a method to track individual performances. In this case, the OKRs are very individual and output-focused, and not as dedicated to getting teams and organizations aligned.
In Howwe, the CEO’s most important goals are the starting point, and when set, drizzled down in the organization on a team basis where every individual is responsible for taking on commitments of activities that they are capable to perform. It encourages individuals to improve the team’s contribution towards the Most Important Goals.
A method for the experienced OKR user
Have you adopted OKR and, after a couple of months or years, felt a need to further develop your organization’s goal management with a slightly escalated approach? The three disciplines of acceleration used in Howwe offer a proactive way of working and that bridge the gaps caused by a cluttered focus and lack in measurability and progress assessment some experience with OKRs. With Howwe, we combine a proven methodology and software. That way, all the captured data is easily aggregated, offering data-driven insights into both past and future. The number of goals is narrowed down and focus is put on lead measures driving results and outcome. The follow-ups visualize progress and creates accountability and commitment. It also offers managers the opportunity to make adjustments as needed. Howwe and its three disciplines of growth may offer slightly less freedom for high achievers, but it enables every team to be successful.
For any organization that is serious about reaching its goals, system support is a must. Howwe enables organizations to measure and visualize future forecasts, based on provable financial results.
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Howwe® is a market-leading software for strategy acceleration
With Howwe® companies are able to align their strategy and workforce and identify what needs to be prioritized to reach their Most Important Goals.