However, anyone using the OKR concept as a standard solution that is strictly implemented by the book will probably fail - this has been shown in practice. Particularly in the case of established companies with existing management systems, strict adherence to Doerr's book or other standardized OKR frameworks is unlikely to lead to productive solutions. The corresponding consulting concepts must be treated with a certain amount of caution.
A better idea is to adapt the OKR framework to the company's specific requirements, because many established businesses face the following challenges:
- They are not starting from scratch, which means that OKR cannot simply be introduced across the company and regardless of other target systems. For example, many companies already have performance management systems with variable salary components, which must be taken into account.
- Particularly in groups of companies, internal consensus-finding and coordination processes are much more complex than in start-ups, and they include a lot more people and corporate levels.
- The idea of full transparency still has not been embraced by many German companies, employee representatives and works councils.
- The mindset and the courage to use OKR resources to focus on certain issues while leaving aside or deferring other projects is much more pronounced in start-ups than in large corporations.
Experience from numerous projects shows: OKR can be used as a means to implement strategy. But it is primarily a “communication instrument,” a common mindset and language that empowers people in organizations to achieve common goals and results. At the end, the introduction of a management framework (such as OKR) has an enormous impact on the company's culture - with all of the ensuing opportunities and challenges. Therefore, it should be approached with the appropriate respect and seriousness.
The concept works similar to agile project management, but at the management level. There are the main objectives that must be achieved, but the team must also regularly adapt them to reality - inside and outside the organization. Only then does the framework generate added value, gains acceptance and becomes viable.