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Ownership and Okrs

Posted on:November 29, 2021 at 12:13 PM

A PM recently showed a graph that looks roughly like this:


This works for engineers and teams which are maintaining existing software or implementing existing solutions. In other words, areas where software needs to be built and maintained without innovation or customer feedback.

But when building and innovating on a product I think this misses the point. We rarely know the value or effort, making this graph obsolete. When we make OKRs that pre-determine what we’re going to build, we remove responsibility, accountability, and let’s be honest, life fulfillment from the people actually doing the work (vs planning the work).

Engineers cannot be graded on outcomes if they’ve been spoon fed the outcome (predicted) before they start their work. THE JOB of an engineer is to build something with a good outcome that aligns with the business and customer needs.

Good OKRs are less, “we will build this awesome thing because we know it’s high value”, and more like, “we know our business needs to go in this general direction to succeed”. Approach like you would a doctor, not a waiter. We’re all trying our best to solve the same problems.