We have been using OKRs for a while but it took a few rounds and reading The Team That Managed Itself to really understand how to stay aligned over the course of the quarter. We have two team meetings and each of them has a superpower activity that really helped us as a team.
- Meeting 1: Monday Commitments
- Superpower: OKR Confidence Level Poker
- Meeting 2: End of Week Celebration
- Superpower: Trophies for Team Mates
Don’t end up doing OKRs to set and forget, and don’t just let it be one person’s responsibility. We set OKRs together as a team and we try to achieve them as a team, so monitoring progress should also happen as a team.
Monday Commitments Meeting
As a team, you talk about priorities for the week as well as the next 4 weeks and check in about the confidence levels of the OKRs and the health metrics.
We added on more things like people’s time off, the latest numbers to help inform the OKR confidence and some room for a check-in or icebreaker in the beginning. Check-ins are so important just to take some time to get to know each other more, have fun or set the stage.
After a quarter, we reviewed this meeting and concluded that sometimes it’s still hard to set priorities because we’re not aware of the bigger picture. For me, as the product manager, the roadmap and priorities are clear, this is my day-to-day but for the team members it might not be and repetition really is key here so for the next quarter we added the company vision and mission, company-level OKRs and a lean roadmap to our overview. The weekly priorities that were directly connected to tickets got linked to Jira for quick and easy access.
At the bottom we tracked OKR confidence and health metrics over time to be able to review it at the end of the quarter, while it looked cool, it did not really serve a bigger purpose.
Our real superpower was the way we did our OKR confidence levels each week.
OKR Confidence Level Poker
We’re using a scale of 1 to 10 for our confidence in reaching a key result.
Once we get to the part in which we talk about our confidence levels, we review the numbers we have and look at the progress of plans. And then we poker. It’s based on Planning Poker a lot of Scrum Teams use for their estimations.
We all have 10 fingers so that’s what most of us use but there also printed out numbers on little sticks e.g. or you could use cards of some sort. Whatever works for you.
We take a moment to think about our confidence and then everyone holds up their fists and we countdown from 3 and show our numbers. If they’re all around the same, we just take the average. If there a big differences, like one person saying 3 and one saying 8, we will talk about it and see why there is such a big discrepancy. This sparks a lot of good and important conversations. We usually end up writing down the average for those as well but also add action items, priorities for the week or the next 4 weeks depending on urgency.
It is also the moment when we have the harder conversations when the confidence overall is very low about what to do next. We have abandoned single KRs towards the end of the quarter in favour of focusing on another that we feel more confident about.
This quarter we’re trying out another approach, our prioritized problems to solve and discovery initiatives, experiments and delivery items will be in a timeline-y plan with our key results as swimlanes.
Now, I know this looks like an anxiety-inducing roadmap BUT it is only for us as a team and we will move stuff around every week. It’s a different visual representation that we think might be easier for us. OKR confidence is below.
Knowing us, there will be a bunch of stickies all over this as soon as we really start using it. I’ll keep you posted on how it works for us.
End Of Week Celebration
This is hands-down my favourite meeting of all time.
It has a simple agenda: check-in/icebreaker, wins and demos, trophies for teammates and retro.
Again, we love our check-ins and icebreakers, they help us build our relationships and are fun!
After that, we take 5 mins to write sticky notes, add screenshots and links to the WINS I WANT TO SHARE section. We do a round-robin to talk about our win(s) of the week and/or demo it. This, too, is directly lifted out of the book The Team That Managed Itself — it is easy to forget all the things we accomplish throughout the quarter and feel like we didn’t get anything done. And it’s super helpful when preparing for the company-wide Show & Tell meeting, we’re a forgetful bunch.
Something that we have recently added is our 4-☕️-Corner to also share failures — If you say the name out loud it makes sense.
We take turns running both meetings every week after starting out with me being the only facilitator, then handing over the EOW celebration and after that the Monday Commitments as well. For that reason, the retro varies every month, the master of ceremony gets to decide on the exact format.
My very favourite part are the trophies though.
Trophies For Team Mates
It’s super easy but does so, so much for the team.
We take 5 mins and add trophies from icons or images to our Mural board write sticky notes: Who is the trophy for and why are they getting it.
Then in another round-robin we present the trophies and make excessive use of the confetti feature in Mural. [The facilitator clicks on their own icon and there’s a menu option called Celebrate! — it’s the best.]
It does not have to be anything huge — but something you appreciate. I have gotten a trophy from our designer for introducing the other PMs to Balsamiq. Sometimes they’re more general.
This easy activity makes people happy, creates a feeling of belonging and appreciation. It’s just wins all around.
During 2020 we actually also added the Survivor of the Week Award that we voted on — it’s been a year.
We have updated our template to add more room for check-ins.
These meetings have helped us to feel very comfortable with each other, there’s trust and safety so we joke around on the Mural board and also have those more uncomfortable conversations.
Here are some of the templates shown above that you can just copy to your own Mural.