Inside the Minds of OKR Overachievers:

Mastering Strategy Execution

In March 2023, a groundbreaking survey conducted by OKRmentors & Quantive delved into the minds of close to 500 leaders to unravel the enigma of successful strategy execution. The findings, compiled in The Global State of OKRs, provide profound insights for leaders and strategic execution professionals. In this article, we zoom in on the companies that feel most comfortable with OKRs, the top 5%.


Introducing OKR Overachievers. The top 5%.



A pivotal question posed to our respondents was their comfort level with using the OKR method. The responses were heterogeneous, but highly telling. Surprisingly, only 5% of organizations selected the option "Excellent, we're overachievers," while a quarter (24%) believed their organization was "good" at using OKRs. Furthermore, 20% were just getting started, and slightly over half (51%) considered themselves "okay" at OKRs. In essence, a staggering 71% of respondents acknowledged that their organization has yet to master OKRs. This trend holds true across the respondent typology, with the exception of company size, where larger organizations exhibited greater comfort with OKRs.


Linking OKRs and Strategic Performance: A Clear Correlation

A compelling correlation emerges between respondents' comfort level with OKRs and their company's strategic performance indicators. Among those who rated themselves as OKR "overachievers," exceptional performance was observed across all metrics.

Execution 

33% of overachievers evaluate themselves as excellent in their ability to execute —10 times higher than beginners

Focus 

48% of overachievers evaluate themselves as excellent in their ability to focus —16 times higher than beginners

Alignment 

43% of overachievers evaluate themselves as excellent in their ability to align teams — 14 times higher than beginners.

Track & share progress 

43% of overachievers evaluate themselves as excellent or above average in their ability to track and share progress — seven times higher than beginners.

Agility & adaptation

 62% of overachievers evaluate themselves as excellent in their ability to be agile and adapt — 62 times higher than beginners

Annual achievement

33% of overachievers evaluate themselves as excellent in their ability to achieve their strategic potential — 12 times higher than beginners.


So, the question becomes: What does it take to become an OKR overachiever?


Best practices of overachievers

Here are the highlights from the full report on what overachievers do differently from their peers:

  • They use quarterly cycles for setting OKRs, as opposed to biannual or annual cycles.
    71% (a significant majority) of overachievers set quarterly cycles for their ORKs. That’s 1.5 times higher than their beginner counterparts.

  • They hold more frequent check-ins to discuss progress toward OKRs. 
    57% of overachievers review their OKRs monthly or weekly, with 33% opting for weekly check-ins. That’s 4.7 times higher than beginners.

  • They have larger teams and more roles involved with OKRs. These can include a designated OKR lead or OKR sponsor, an internal network of OKR champions, as well as external coaches or trainers that provide additional support. 
    Overachievers tend to have larger teams involved with making OKRs work: OKR Lead (44%), Sponsor (44%) and Champion Network (46%). They involve champions and coaches 40% more often than their beginners counterparts.
    The proportion of OKR contributors within a company is correlated with an organization's maturity level with OKRs. Two-thirds (67%) of overachievers assign OKRs to 75% or more of the organization, compared to just 3% of beginners.

  • The implementation of OKRs begins at the highest levels, with a greater number of overachievers adopting OKRs at the company and business line levels. 
    Overachievers tend to involve more levels with OKRs. In particular, they more frequently set OKRs at the company level and crossfunctional teams level than beginner counterparts.

  • Overachievers seamlessly integrate their OKRs with existing company processes such as business and accounting cycles and performance evaluations. 
    81% of overachievers align their OKR cycles with their business and accounting cycles. That’s 1.8 times higher than their beginner counterparts.
    76% of overachievers link OKRs to employee performance evaluations in a direct or indirect manner. That’s 1.4 times more than beginners. Of these, a third (33%) make OKRs a primary factor in performance evaluations.
    62% of OKR overachievers see success by simply making OKRs a mandatory practice. But they don’t stop there. Even more than the rest of the sample, overachievers use a mix of all the available tactics: linking OKRs to performance evaluations (52%), deploying OKR champions and coaches (48%), holding managers accountable (48%), and training teams and individuals (43%).

  • They use specialized solutions (not spreadsheets) for managing and tracking OKR progress. 
    High performers have diverse approaches to managing and tracking OKRs, which is largely consistent with the rest of the sample. The primary distinction is their higher usage of OKR software compared to other groups.

  • They design and implement a robust OKR training approach that leverages internal and external know-how.
    Organizations performing below the “excellent” level are twice as likely to not have a formal training program in place for OKRs. Conversely, 68% of overachievers have internal OKR training curriculums in place, compared with 46% of other organizations. Moreover, 27% encourage or require employees to become OKR certified — three times higher than other respondents. 



At OKRmentors, our collective of experts helps organizations become OKR overachievers and help teams deliver their full potential. Check out how we can assist you here. Alternatively, download the complete report for comprehensive insights into OKRs' best practices. 


Remember, it's never too late to embrace change and unleash the true potential of your organization. Take the first step today with OKRs.