My TILs of the week 12/20

Book: Radical Focus

I am working with OKRs for over four years already. It is more obvious than ever to me now that there is no single definition of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). There is the IBM model, the Google model, the Zynga way and so on. It seems that the book Radical Focus focuses on the Zynga model of using OKRs. Following are a few takeaway which were new to me. For a full summary check out David Tuite’s article.

Using a 4×4 matrix

In the first quarter of the 4×4 matrix you write your objective and key results. The book was targeted on startups and SMEs so the examples were mostly evolving around a single objective and just two or three key results. I liked this very limited number of objectives and key results, this is the main benefits of OKRs to me.

The second quarter lists the top priorities for the week. It groups them into P1 (absolute must) and P2 (should be done).

The third quarter lists the upcoming milestones of the next 4 weeks. It visualises the big items which will become priorities soon.

The last quarter lists health metrics. This can consist of a couple of metrics which ensure quality and maintains a certain standard of areas you want to focus on. This can for example be customer satisfaction or team happiness.

Relying on your gut

Another interesting aspect I found was how evaluating a key result was described. Just like the IBM model the key results should be measurable metrics. However setting and evaluating the metrics can be based on a gut feeling score of 1 to 10. At the beginning of the quarter you set your key results with a confidence of 5 out of 10. So you literally think you have a 50% chance of making it. During the OKR check-ins you then reevaluate.

Basing this on gut feeling has the advantage that you are not inclined to dodge some uncomfortable or hard to measure topics. But it requires more honesty and self-reflection.

Maturity models

This is a term I stumbled upon a few times but never bothered researching it. After reading Rethinking Agile by Klaus Leopold I finally dove into the topic a bit deeper.

Image from FCIT

Maturity models are a tool to assess the maturity of an organisation or team in certain areas. Depending on the industry or area the criteria of the assessment differs. You can for example do a DevOps assessment or a career path from junior to principal engineer.

Theoretically it would be best to be on the highest level on all of the assessed criteria but this is not realistic. The cost of achieving the highest level on all criteria would be prohibitively expensive. Instead you pick the improvements which are most important to you.

Each level is a natural progression. You can not simply skip levels. So it is less important which level you are at but seeing what needs to be worked on is.

Working remotely

Due to the spread of the novel corona virus this has been my first ever week working fully remotely. I am not a big fan of remote work because I love the social aspect of the office and my co-workers are dear to me. Overall the week went better than expected. I established some basic rules for me to separate between work and home life.

When I leave my desk I take off my glasses. This is a signal to myself in which mode I am currently operating. At the end of the day I tidy up my desk, put my headphones on charge and close my work computer. I don’t touch it then until the next morning and use my private laptop for Netflix and blogging.

For my older child it was rather hard to understand that Papa is home but still has to work. It helps a bit that I always take five minutes whenever I take a break to play with him.

I have also observed that meetings take longer. This might be due to the fact that you are not getting out of meeting rooms when time is up and that we’re still getting used to the remote working life. It seems to me though that speaking time is more evenly distributed which is great to see.