Co-founder at Airbyte.io
At Airbyte, we're very transparent on our journey. We're building an open-source EL(T) platform, I guess it's easier to be fully open and transparent when building open-source technology as it must be part of your DNA.
In any case, we hope the lessons from our journey can help other (open-source or not) entrepreneurs in their own journey.
Our whole team has had diverse experiences with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). We’ve seen them implemented in very useful ways, and in some cases in non-productive pressure-inducing ways. In this article, we’d like to share our learnings, as well as Airbyte’s OKRs for Q1 2021.
This way, you can see some concrete implementation of OKRs, and, on our side, we can get your feedback and learn from you as well.
Much has already been written on OKRs. If you don’t know about them, here’s a great article: OKRs - Secrets to Success. But we’re sure that many of you are already familiar with OKRs. They are a mechanism for establishing team and company goals, and ways to measure success.
In the end, OKRs help us focus our efforts, align our teams, and allow us to track our progress in a meaningful way. They also give each team autonomy for their work. It takes the focus off of creating features and puts it onto creating outcomes for users.
That is what makes OKRs so powerful. However, they are just a framework, and you can use them the way you want - which sometimes can be a bit dangerous.
Here are a few ways you can lower OKRs’ impact on your team and organization:
Too many OKRs or key results. This dilutes the focus and the impact of the team’s focus, and, hence, the outcome. It can be either too many objectives, or too many key results for a said objective.
Tasks as key results. It shouldn’t be about the tasks, but the outcome you want from those tasks. You want your team to be able to have the freedom to focus on what they think is most important to achieve the desired outcome.
Using them at the individual level can hold some risks. They might be perceived as a means to evaluate, even if the managers insist they’re not.
Not reviewing or updating them when it would be relevant to. Every now and then, the team will learn information that might change their priorities or potential outcomes. In that case, you should revisit your OKRs accordingly. OKRs should always be relevant, or they lose their usefulness.
On the 3rd point, we’re not saying that individual OKRs are not useful. Indeed, when you think about the benefits of OKRs, it’s about focus and alignment. Alignment is not achieved at the personal level; however, focus is. But our experience has always been mitigated. We think individual OKRs should be coming from the individuals themselves and should be optional, and not compulsory from the manager.
At Airbyte, we’re thinking of company OKRs only. We’re a small team and very horizontal, so no need for departmental OKRs. As we’re early stage, quarterly OKRs are what make the most sense to us, as opposed to annual ones. And here’s how we formulate them.
1. O: Growing Community Love
What is community love? We like Orbit’s definition for it. Love is a member's level of engagement and investment in the community. Someone with high love is highly active and plays key roles in the community, like contributing, moderating, and organizing.
Here are our key results for this objective:
2. O: Growing Production Usage
3. O: Becoming a reliable standard
4. O: Building the Dream Team
We strongly believe in talent density, and that it’s better to have one stellar colleague than 5 average ones.
How do these OKRs translate into milestones? Of course, there is a lot more than a simple list of product milestones before you reach your key results. However, we’re taking this opportunity to share with you what we have in mind for the quarter today.
For our core platform:
Core upgrade strategy
For our connectors:
That’s it! We hope the way we use OKRs and how that translates into context at Airbyte was insightful to you. And again, our goal in sharing this with you is also to get your feedback, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments.
(Disclaimer: The author is the co-Founder at Airbyte)
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