Succeeding with OKRs in Agile
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Succeeding with OKRs in Agile

How to create & deliver Objectives Key Results for teams

About the Book

OKRs are about goals bigger than the next story. OKRs prioritise purpose and strategy over backlogs. Objectives are big goals; key results are smaller goals that build towards the objective.

Does your agile team get lead astray by burning fires? Do you struggle to keep your agile team focused?

Do you feel the need for more than just doing the top of the backlog every two weeks?

Are you using, or want to use, OKRs with an agile team?

Then this is the book for you. Acclaimed author Allan Kelly has written a short guide to OKRs, writing them, organizing to deliver and the pitfalls.

Allan is the author of multiple books on agile and has given advice and training for over 10 years. Now he turns his attention to OKRs.

In this book he doesn't try to sell OKRs - others can tell you why OKRs are great. Allan describes his practical experience working with an agile team adopting OKRs, day-by-day, quarter-by-quarter.

Allan’s advice includes: be really specific in setting goals, involve the whole team in setting OKRs, think broad when setting then execute narrowly, set analogue not binary OKRs and, most controversially, throw away your backlog and let OKRs drive everything you do.

Initially sceptical about OKRs Allan found them a good fit with agile; OKRs became an effective means of focus teams, exposing problems, communicating with senior managers and a powerful means of asking bigger questions about product strategy and value.

OKRs and agile work well together because they are both outcome oriented and results focused. When used right OKRs give power and authority to teams - one could even say OKRs create test first management.

Yet OKR can be a double edge-sword, used poorly they can re-introduce command-and-control and hinder agile working. Allan addresses problems with predictability, aspirations, culture, targets and annual reviews.

About the Author

Allan Kelly
Allan Kelly

Allan Kelly calls himself an Agile Guide. He helps software professionals enjoy more fulfilling and satisfying work by improving the way work is organised and requests are made. Happier people and better ways of working make for more effective companies, greater value and competitive advantage.

His wide experience of the challenges faced in software development underpins his advice, coaching, training and writing. He is the author of seven books including "Xanpan - team centric Agile Software Development", "Business Patterns for Software Developers" and "Continuous Digital". He has pioneered techniques such as Value Poker, Time-Value Profiles and Retrospective Dialogue Sheets. His blog is at https://www.allankellyassociates.co.uk/blog/

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Table of Contents

  •  
    • Free book when you subscribe
    • Foreword
    • Preface
    • Short quick lessons
  • I Why OKRs
    • 1. Introducing OKR
      • 1.1 Dissecting OKRs
      • 1.2 OKRs and agile
      • 1.3 Think broadly, execute narrowly
      • 1.4 Ambition over estimation
    • 2. Why use OKRs?
      • 2.1 Mid-term planning
      • 2.2 Test-driven OKRs
      • 2.3 Communication
      • 2.4 Warning
      • 2.5 Summary
    • 3. Focus
      • 3.1 OKRs create focus
      • 3.2 Summary
    • 4. OKR history
    • 5. Outcomes, value and benefits
      • 5.1 Business benefit and value
      • 5.2 Value
      • 5.3 Pieconomics
      • 5.4 Summary
  • II Writing OKRs
    • 6. Writing OKRs
      • 6.1 Team setting
      • 6.2 Limited number
      • 6.3 Priority
      • 6.4 Effort
      • 6.5 Avoid planning by OKR
      • 6.6 The trouble with pre-work
      • 6.7 When to set OKRs
      • 6.8 Not money
    • 7. Objectives
      • 7.1 Background analysis
      • 7.2 Objective value
      • 7.3 Obvious value
      • 7.4 Wide objectives
      • 7.5 Feature factories
      • 7.6 One for the team
      • 7.7 Testing trouble
    • 8. Key results
      • 8.1 Example
      • 8.2 Test-driven
      • 8.3 Binary or analog?
      • 8.4 Summary
    • 9. Measuring
      • 9.1 Quantify
      • 9.2 Measuring the impossible
      • 9.3 Removing the subjectivity
      • 9.4 Unintended consequences
      • 9.5 Don’t boil it down
      • 9.6 Summary
    • 10. Key result tricks
      • 10.1 Experiments
      • 10.2 Hypothesis-driven development
      • 10.3 Time-boxed
      • 10.4 Survey
      • 10.5 Knowing when to stop
      • 10.6 Summary
    • 11. Planning cycle
      • 11.1 Gather the team
      • 11.2 When to set
      • 11.3 Start late
      • 11.4 During the quarter
      • 11.5 End-of-quarter review
      • 11.6 Mid-quarter review
      • 11.7 Product Owner
      • 11.8 Summary
  • III Working with OKRs
    • 12. Organizing to deliver OKRs
      • 12.1 OKRs everywhere
      • 12.2 Sprint planning with OKRs
      • 12.3 Traffic lights and status
      • 12.4 Summary
    • 13. OKRs and the backlog
      • 13.1 OKRs, not backlogs
      • 13.2 Backlog first
      • 13.3 OKRs first
      • 13.4 Return of the sprint goal
      • 13.5 Summary
    • 14. BAU – keeping the lights on
      • 14.1 Option 1: suppress BAU
      • 14.2 Option 2: reduce or remove BAU
      • 14.3 Option 3: make BAU better
      • 14.4 Option 4: objective zero – add BAU
      • 14.5 Downside
      • 14.6 Summary
    • 15. Executing
      • 15.1 Keeping focus
      • 15.2 Prioritize
      • 15.3 Visual display
      • 15.4 Revisit often: sprint planning
      • 15.5 Time-slice
      • 15.6 Summary
    • 16. Going off-piste
      • 16.1 Unplanned but valuable
      • 16.2 Prepare for the unexpected
      • 16.3 Track distractions
      • 16.4 Summary
    • 17. Beyond the quarter
      • 17.1 Three horizons
      • 17.2 From roadmap to OKRs
      • 17.3 Feedback
      • 17.4 Summary
    • 18. Integrated planning
      • 18.1 OKR roadmap
      • 18.2 The Product Owner and planning
      • 18.3 Summary
  • IV Leadership
    • 19. Strategy
      • 19.1 Big goals
      • 19.2 Agile makes strategy more important
      • 19.3 Opportunity cost
      • 19.4 What not to do
      • 19.5 The backlog
      • 19.6 Don’t forget the technology
      • 19.7 Shared mental model
      • 19.8 Summary
    • 20. Leaders
      • 20.1 Culture, goals and strategy elements
      • 20.2 Day-to-day
      • 20.3 Leaders and culture
      • 20.4 Summary
    • 21. Culture
      • 21.1 Delivery culture
      • 21.2 Customers
      • 21.3 Openness and feedback
      • 21.4 Psychological safety
      • 21.5 Ambition
      • 21.6 Summary
    • 22. Leaders and planning
      • 22.1 Broad–narrow
      • 22.2 Forward planning
      • 22.3 Cascade up, not down
      • 22.4 Summary
  • V Forewarnings
    • 23. Aspirations
      • 23.1 Utility mode
      • 23.2 Creating aspirations?
      • 23.3 Leaders and culture
      • 23.4 An OKR adoption route
      • 23.5 Exercise: where are you?
      • 23.6 Summary
    • 24. Everyday pitfalls
      • 24.1 ‘OKR buffet’
      • 24.2 Late-arriving OKRs
      • 24.3 Adding to the story hierarchy
      • 24.4 Counting problems
      • 24.5 Respect for specialists
      • 24.6 Respect for managers
      • 24.7 Summary
    • 25. Trouble with targets
      • 25.1 Targeting the measurable
      • 25.2 Questions measurement can’t answer
      • 25.3 Goodhart’s Law
      • 25.4 Goal displacement
      • 25.5 Overcoming tunnel vision
      • 25.6 A final warning: targets
      • 25.7 Summary
    • 26. Individuals and performance reviews
      • 26.1 Integrating employee reviews with OKRs
      • 26.2 OKRs for individuals
      • 26.3 Summary
  • Close
    • Closing words
      • Get out of jail free
      • Finally
    • Further reading
    • Coming soon: OKRs extra
    • Acknowledgements
    • Also by Allan Kelly
  • Notes

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