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OKR management in flow with Viva Goals

29.09.2022

A successfully implemented OKR framework makes it easier for companies to execute their strategy by creating alignment, focus, transparency, and measurability around goals and progress. But company-wide transparent tracking and communication of OKRs are often challenging in practice. Viva Goals, part of the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform, is a highly elegant solution to this very challenge, plus it is fully integrated into daily workflows. 

Inadequate software = inadequate acceptance

From buying a train ticket online to online banking and beyond to cloud-based filing at companies: If the software solution that makes this process possible is laborious, time-consuming, and complex to handle – or, worse, contains security gaps – it doesn’t take long for our frustration with the situation to rub off on the task itself. We might decide to drive after all, or to change banks or store our files locally. 

Lasting establishment of the OKR framework at a company is similar. Unless there is a user-friendly and transparent OKR tool that is easy and intuitive to integrate into day-to-day workflows, the risk of rejection, lack of understanding, or silo-type solutions increases.  

Anyone who has to sweat their way through cumbersome Excel tables, worrying all the while that they may destroy the entire structure with a single misplaced click, is unlikely to feel much enthusiasm for regular status updates. Course corrections based on dynamic internal and external influences also have a much harder time penetrating to other OKR levels and divisions unless there is a suitable software solution in place. And if OKRs for different units and teams are set down in different tools or files, it is easy for people to fall back into focusing only on their own areas of work in isolation instead of as part of the big picture. 

These patterns of thinking and behavior are exactly what stand in the way of sustainable, value-creating implementation of the OKR framework within a company. 

Activating OKR superpowers with Viva Goals

Here, as elsewhere – to put it somewhat provocatively – “a fool with a tool is still a fool,” as the saying goes. That is to say, even the best OKR software will never be able to compensate for deficiencies in the organization-specific design and application of the OKR framework. It cannot help if the management and employees are insufficiently involved, informed, and enabled to use this method sensibly and in a way tailored to the company’s needs. In the end, discussion and prioritization of strategically relevant outcomes are still the most important steps. 

However, a tool like Viva Goals does help to simplify hard work and support the process. Viva Goals, part of the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform, prevents tool breaks. Instead, because it is connected to other M365 applications like Teams and Azure DevOps, it creates fluid transitions to team and project work. This facilitates not only administrative work, but also acceptance among employees and the integration of OKRs into daily workflows. 

In addition, numerous useful functions and intuitive handling unlock and reinforce the “superpowers” of OKRs

Alignment: Are we pulling together in the same direction?

The superpower of “alignment” creates a shared strategic direction, so all units and employees are working together in an organized fashion toward overarching corporate goals. 

Viva Goals provides simple ways to see whether OKRs are broken down in a structured manner from top to bottom. Links between individual goals and operational activities and the company’s vision and mission are visualized. This enables value-creating alignment of unit and employee goals, but that isn’t all. It also makes it possible to identify aspects of the strategy that are too often disregarded (at least at present) in operational terms.   

Focus: Are we deploying our resources to the right important spots?

Improved focus allows people to work on the topics that deliver the most added value with an eye to the company's strategy. With clear priorities in place, scant resources are used efficiently with a focus on goals. This approach also opens up possibilities for deliberately saying no. 

Viva Goals helps with the challenge of focusing on key topics. Clearly presented prioritization of goals helps to track the topics with the greatest added value on a consistent basis. Decisions for or against projects are easier to make, and others can track and understand them at any time.    

Transparency: Are goals, progress, responsibilities, and similar factors visible to everyone?

The superpower of transparency arises when OKRs for various areas are clear and visible. This helps to overcome challenges such as internal silos, unidentified dependencies or the lack of a cross-departmental mindset.  

Viva Goals has various settings to help break down internal silos while still observing data protection and privacy rules. All OKRs within the company can be visualized transparently, allowing people to identify dependencies and see responsibilities and priorities clearly. If a cross-departmental mindset is not effective or conflicts with internal guidelines, there are ways to take corrective action. Personal OKRs at the employee level can also be maintained in private mode, of course. 

Measurability: Where do we stand right now?

Measurability is what makes it possible to transform objectives into concrete, demonstrable results. Clearly defined metrics and regular tracking of those metrics make it possible to grasp advances and their business impact. 

Integrating a quantitative metric with starting and ending values for each key result prevents vague or misinterpreted goals. Progress can be tracked in detail and presented with good visual impact in the dashboard at any time. One specific way that Viva Goals can make work easier is through automatic update functions that transfer progress made in other applications such as Excel or Azure DevOps to the right places. Automatic adjustment of progress bars can also be set up across multiple levels by updating a value at the project, key result, or objective level. 

Viva Goals as enabler of successful OKR use

To sum up, a tool like Viva Goals is not a substitute for extensive consideration of the company’s strategic alignment and goals or proper application of methods and processes involved in the OKR framework. As in the online train ticket and cloud storage examples, the foundation has to be built and maintained elsewhere. 

Still, a user-friendly OKR software solution such as Viva Goals improves acceptance and facilitates the implementation of the framework in that employees from all units and levels can easily view and manage OKRs and integrate them into their day-to-day work. This makes working on and with OKRs enjoyable and creates purpose in people’s daily work, thus not only promoting achievement of goals, but also enhancing the employee experience. 

 

Are you looking for deeper insight into Viva Goals and a chance to talk with other businesses about challenges and solutions in the OKR context? Please join us for our Viva Goals Discovery Session from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CET on October 13, 2022!

OKR with Viva Goals

Authors

Svenja Gliem

Svenja Gliem

Senior Consultant

Daniel Burger

Daniel Burger

Manager Collaboration

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