OKR Ambassador training. My experience

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

My personal development backlog is quite massive. However, my budget is not; therefore, I need to choose what to visit next wisely. As the formal education is business comparing to religion by revenue, you can be trapped into tons of training, seminars, classes, etc. So it is a thing to understand what you really need and how you can help yourself with an event instead of reading another book.

A short disclaimer is that you must read books anyway, so any educational events are not a panacea. Different people find different perspectives on such activities. Sometimes, they think it will help with career promotion (never seen). Some people are firmly against any official classes. For me, it is an opportunity to do the following:

  • build the single holistic view of an entire problem;

  • update the personal development backlog with new challenges;

  • update the books-to-read backlog and reprioritize it due to the current problem area;

  • discuss trends with professionals and passionate people.

This time, I will tell you about my experience with the OKR Ambassador class on May 11, 2020 led by Bart den Haak online.

First off, the terminology deserves an explanation. OKR is an open-sourced method, which means there is not an organization like Scrum Alliance or ICAgile behind. I was told that there was an agreement between thought leaders about an approximate learning curve. It includes the following steps:

  • Fundamentals - to get to know the approach from scratch;

  • Ambassador - to be able to lead the OKR implementation in an organization, mostly on the team level;

  • Champion - to be able to coach top management on their way to OKR.

So be careful, if you are a certification digger, it is not something that pleases your ego =).

I went directly to Ambassador as I thought I knew enough for Fundamentals (which appeared to be true). However, some of my practical questions were related to Champion, therefore remained partially answered. But let's put it in order.

Ambassador is a one-day class related to the OKR introduction in an organization. Participants were expected to be familiar with the approach, but the first part of the course was taken to Fundamentals. The reason was that an Ambassador should be able to explain the basics to other people in an organization. It means that we spent time practicing not only concepts in general but also teaching approaches mainly.

OKRs 101 consists of Objectives, Key Results, and OKR Cycle. During the Foundations part, we practiced creating Objectives and Key Results. As it is about becoming an Ambassador, we discussed the nuances of teaching others using different exercises and examples. For instance, we spent a lot of time talking about other OKRs for good and bad patterns in them. One of the insights for me was that OKRs represents a so-called Learning Zone for an organization, the first step out of the comfort zone. That is why two things become impossible or highly problematic. The first one is when managers are trying to connect financial bonuses, or even salary raises to OKR. Imagine that you are pushed away from your comfort zone and can be punished with money if you do not do that =). Secondly, the concept of personal OKRs in situations when only a team can achieve the goal together. After the internal conversation, we realized that the best case of personal OKR is learning objectives, all the rest is just tasks on the way to a team-level KR.

During the second part of the workshop, we discussed the OKR Cycle in detail required to prepare, facilitate, and follow up conclusions from the Cycle's meetings. It can be challenging in general, if you do this for the first time or you are not familiar with facilitation basics. For me, this part of the workshop was mostly technical. I got some specific questions to facilitate events, preparation tricks, and agenda examples.

My goals were to structure the information I already got about OKRs, improve my skills on how to kick off OKR activities in the organization, and how to coach leaders to help them with OKRs. The first two of them are covered completely, the last one was a bit out of scope and time for a 1-day workshop. In general, this kind of activity is a great way to sum up your knowledge and build a concrete plan for your team and situation. Bart did a great job managing the online event using Zoom and Mural. It would be better to participate in this workshop with a bigger and more diverse group. Also, in my opinion, the price was quite high for the class based on an open-source area of knowledge. To conclude, my score for this workshop is 8 out of 10.

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