This week was surprisingly productive. We made progress, possibly despite my efforts.
The plan had been to get different groups of people together, clustered around each mission, and invite them to start drafting the key results against each of the draft objectives. I spent a decent amount of time at the weekend drafting the workshop materials which was slightly too late to be useful for anyone.
The first workshop wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t able to fulfil the purpose of the session. I feel particularly embarrassed when I’ve taken groups of the team and not set them up to succeed. So I talked it through with a few of the participants and thought about what we could do differently.
The key challenge we’re confronting is what level of specificity we need from our objectives. Should it be obvious which project or work stream will achieve the goal, or should they draw together the purpose of multiple projects? In organisations that routinely use OKRs, they’re like a set of Russian dolls. For good reason, we’re attempting a single set of OKRS for our whole service.
To work out the right answer, I turned back to the missions. Would the objectives, if met, get us one year closer to accomplishing the missions? This question helped me understand how to frame the objectives. I then wrote a note recapping where we are, how we want to do the work and where we need to get to.
The challenge is to write the objectives so that they remain specific. Working with Cate, I developed three tests:
- Are they words that might appear in a ministerial speech (ie non-specifically and too general)?
- Can you imagine a conversation with Rob about whether one of the objectives is more or less important?
- Will you know when it’s done?
Liz led a workshop to redraft objectives related to the mission ‘Services people prefer’ and that was more successful, so we’ll repeat this approach over the coming weeks. I suspect this bit will need to be a bit more top down than I’d anticipated. So to make sure that we’re tapping into the knowledge of the whole team, I’d like to try and visualise our draft objectives, and the pieces of work that relate to each of them. If we put these up in the office, we’ll have a chance to get wider input.
I developed a view of the objectives for our group director of neighbourhoods and housing, with a view to it becoming a consistent way of describing our pipeline of work to senior leaders, so that we’ve a shared view of what’s important. I’d like to ensure that we’ve got a single way of describing our objectives, no matter who we’re taking to. But whether we can create an approach that’s simple and easy to understand for different audiences remains to be seen.
So, all things being equal, by the end of February we should have a clear set of objectives, shared with senior leaders.