The power of focusing on what matters most
Have a real 360-degree view of your company’s strategy with regards to tactical OKRs as well as your team’s initiative and engagement in achieving your goals.
Importance of Focus
There have been many studies done over the years to determine how to boost human productivity. The common conclusion that many of them come to, is the importance of focus. The brain has a very particular way of operating and for most people, it operates at its best when it’s focused on one task and not when it’s juggling multiple different activities.
Two types of focus
- Intellectual Focus
- Objective Focus
Modern society, especially the standard working environment for digital workers, works against our natural way of being productive. Emails, chats, phones, and many other modern technologies in our everyday lives constantly disrupt our attention. For example, a study from the American Psychology Association shows that:
“Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity. Although that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has talked on the phone while checking E-mail or talked on a cell phone while driving, the extent of the problem might come as a shock.”
How the individual focuses on a task is referred to as Intellectual Focus and you can find hundreds of resources these days that give advice on how to improve yours. For example, this summary of 7 Scientific Studies That Reveal the Secrets to Max. Productivity by Aaron Brooks provides several great techniques for improving your productivity. Master those techniques and you’ll be able to, as we love to say, “get shit done”.
However, modern companies work a bit differently to the human brain. The biggest difference is that they constantly have to switch focus from one topic/goal to the next and as Darwin, the famous evolutionary scientist, once said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.” Companies are constantly pushed by modern market evolution to adapt and have their employees follow a rhythm of multitasking, or multi-objective, which we refer to as Objective Focus.
Using OKRs in your business is one of the best ways to have great Objective Focus. As our friends from WhatMatters.com point out in this article, the number one benefit of working with OKRs is increased focus:
“Focus is the first benefit of OKRs because when you set OKRs, you are limited in the number of them. There can be more than one objective, but always less than seven. Fewer is better. Every objective should fit on one line. As for key results, you should have no more than five per objective. Because of this inherent necessity to limit the number of things to focus on, OKRs really force upfront choice-making. An OKR cycle should start with the question, What is most important for the next three (or six, or twelve) months? This time-bound query sets OKRs apart from other goal-setting systems because they bring to the surface the handful of initiatives that can make a real, immediate difference while deferring less urgent ones. By standing firmly behind a few top-line OKRs, leaders give their teams a compass and a baseline for assessment.”
The challenge of Remote Teams
The new normal that we live in now as a result of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has increased the number of people working from home. This has brought on a whole new challenge in the modern business as employees now have to battle home, personal, and work distractions all at the same time. Therefore, it is now absolutely vital that businesses have a good way of focusing their employees’ time on the most important activities related to achieving the best results and outcomes possible.
Fortunately, there are lots of tools to help companies and teams to keep on track of what they are doing. Online meetings, calendars, project management tools, and more, helps to organize and work like nothing is happening. These tools boosted by the OKR’s methodology help to focus and obtain good, and in some cases, excellent results.
Of course this “new normal” will never replace the importance of our relationships with other people in our communities. As this article, the Mental Health Foundation says, “Both losing normal contact with people and being thrown into much closer contact than usual can feel stressful and it may be worrying, frightening or even unbearable.”
Why the “Why” matters
The adoption of OKRs within your organization is the first step towards improved focus, but if you really want to ensure that everyone on your team is committed to achieving your company goals, then it’s vital that your team understands WHY their OKRs are important.
By showing the employee the company goal and how their OKRs contribute to that company goal, the employee can understand why and how he is contributing to your organization’s success. With a combined view of the company strategy, the quarterly/monthly goals, and the tasks required to progress and transform their efforts into results, it gives your employees a deeper sense of the importance that their work has in the company and helps them focus on what matters the most.
In Axy OKR, the company strategy is represented by the Company Goal which refers to the annual vision or target that the team should achieve.
The methods used to achieve that Company Goal are represented by OKRs and with the predefined “My OKRs” filter, you can easily see where your focus should be from a tactical level. In addition, this filter can also track progress and reinforce your commitment to the Company Goal.
In order to direct the employee’s attention on where to focus, there are two important charts: the active Key Results that are not on-track and the OKR achievement forecast. These reports will show the employee what their priorities should be and where their time and efforts should be focused.
The next related actions are represented by My Tasks, which is the simplest and most natural way to track and organize activity in Salesforce.
As a result, we are proud to announce this new feature in the last release v1.18 of Axy OKR Salesforce application.
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