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Hackernoon logoAirbyte's OKRs for Q1 2021 by@jean-lafleur

Airbyte's OKRs for Q1 2021

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@jean-lafleurJohn Lafleur

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. 

Why OKRs are powerful for your team and organization

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. 

OKR pitfalls and how we’re avoiding them

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. 

Airbyte’s OKRs for end of Q1 2021

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: 

  • KR: Weekly Active Slack users 
  • KR: GitHub stars 
  • KR: Issue contributors. Issues are a proxy to show that those users are engaging with your product. 
  • KR: PR contributors. Pull Requests are the real expression of love and advocacy. Those users dedicated their precious time to your projects. 

2. O: Growing Production Usage 

  • KR: Active companies, meaning companies that use an active connection that is syncing data at least once a day. 
  • KR: Design partners, in order to help us understand everything that is underlying production usage at any company of any stage.
  • KR: Active connections per active companies, as we want this number to grow with time - our goal is that companies will eventually use Airbyte for all their connections. 

3. O: Becoming a reliable standard

  • KR: % failure at sync attempts - our goal is to keep it under 5% while growing the use cases we address, throughout Q1 2021. We intend to get that down below 1% by the end of 2021. 
  • KR: Response time to any message on Slack or GitHub - our goal is to reach <30 min by end of Q1 2021.
  • KR: Time to high bug resolution - our goal is to reach 1.5 days by the end of Q1 2021. 

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. 

  • KR: 2 A+ engineers
  • KR: 1 founding developer advocate

Our next milestones

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. 

Community efforts

  • January: Hard launch on HackerNews once we achieve better connector stability 
  • Building tutorials to improve the developer experience (DX) in building their own connectors, or editing pre-built ones

Product efforts

For our core platform:

  •  Integration in data stack with DBT and Airflow

Core upgrade strategy

For our connectors:

  • Strengthen our connectors so all our connectors are A+
  • Schemas migration management
  • Seamless OAuth support
  • More high-level abstractions to build connectors more easily (ongoing effort)
  • An MVP for CDC (Capture Data Change)
  • Connector upgrade strategy
  • A public dashboard showing the stability (failure rate) of all our connectors

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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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