The Six Steps to Make Meetings More Effective with OKRs

80% of the benefits that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) generate come from the conversations that they trigger.

OKRs are 20% technical and 80% social.

Brett Knowles

80% of the benefits that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) generate come from the conversations that they trigger.

The problem is that meetings are the most powerful tool in business. They are also the most neglected, underdeveloped, and misapplied tool we see in most organizations. (The meetings aren’t the goal; it’s the well-run business that we're after.)

OKR meetings do not happen by accident - they are a process like any other process in your business, and call for meeting agendas, careful design, specific roles, and clean execution.

The success of most OKR meetings is pre-ordained in the "preparation" stage.

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We talked about this a bit in a recent article (OKRs - Meeting Consistency Not Intensity)

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Each circle in the "meeting cadence" horizontal line represents the meeting cycle we are presenting here.

Consistency in running these meetings is critical to delivering the sustained benefits of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).

Let's look at each stage:

1. On-going activities

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This covers the daily activities of your business - the stuff that your OKRs are covering. They fit into two categories: "processes" and "projects" (more on these in a later post). Between meetings, you have to get stuff done. This is the getting stuff done phase - it happens before every meeting!

2. Gather Data

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It might seem obvious, but before every meeting you have to gather your performance data to add it to the meeting agendas. The trick here is to make sure your Key Results (KRs) are available at the same cadence required to manage that part of the business.

3. Meeting Preparation (the secret sauce)

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This is where the magic happens. There are three major steps:

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  1. Analyze (Objective Owner) - Analyze the last period's performance of the overall team objectives and produce your commentary. Considering the performance, write the analysis What / So What / Now What (analyze beyond the measure how that key result was created).
  2. Plan the Team Meetings (Leader) - Schedule how much time for each issue, schedule subject matter experts and other roles. Set the meeting agenda around specific problems for the meeting to solve, time allotted for each problem.
    * Arrange for SMEs at the exact time you need them.
    * Ensure required presentations are developed.
    * Assign meeting roles (Timekeeper, SMEs, Notes taker, Facilitator…)
  3. Prepare (Everyone) - Everyone has to do their homework to properly discuss OKR progress and team objectives - prepare for the status update meeting. Review all OKRs and consider how your activities impacted on that performance and how is your area impacted by the performance that occurred. Share any experience or OKR progress insights around the performance with the Owner before the status update meeting.

4. Run the Meeting

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Running the meeting is about sticking to the meeting agenda, bringing in the right SMEs at the right time,  evaluating each key result, escalating where necessary. Being clear who is doing what and when.

5. Follow-up

When all is said and done, more is said than done.

Lou Holtz

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The second most important stage of the OKR team meetings, after "Preparation" is "Follow-up". It is super important that the things that you commit to in the meeting, are done after the meeting (and before the next check in meeting).

6. Ongoing activities

Now you take what you learned in the meeting, and committed to during the meeting, and apply it to your day-to-day activities.

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The Meeting Cycle

The most important stage is Preparation. The lead-in and follow-up have to work too - but prepared meetings are about 25% shorter and drive performance up by about 20%. Both numbers that your organization would like!

There are more details around each stage - but this gives you the idea. OKR team meetings don’t happen magically, but this cycle will help you make it easier for you and your team to create an effective OKR structure and share your insights later on in a company wide meeting, allowing everyone to learn from your success. Having a working OKR structure will elevate your organization to unexpected heights!

Remember that having a meeting management software to schedule your meetings will help you and your team to be more time-efficient, follow the meeting agendas and track what everyone’s working on!

Brett Knowles

Brett Knowles is a thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications.

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