How has the OKR method changed collaboration at esome?
Christoph: That’s not easy to answer because you need to pay attention to the following: Implementing OKRs is a long process. A corresponding transformation can only be observed gradually and is not immediately visible. It is not the idea of one individual but an outcome that is only possible through cross-team consultation and collaboration. At esome, this is the most noticeable point of change for me. In the past, when we faced new challenges, we mainly looked around the responsible department. However, the more we have engaged with the OKR method, the more intensively we focus on the obstacles themselves and consider which competencies are needed. This slow dissolving of departmental thinking, to concentrate on individual problems with individual competence requirements, is a significant change at esome.
Stefan: Exactly. As with many agile methodologies or processes, you have to distinguish between the OKR process and the mindset behind it. We have seen significant changes on both levels over the last few years. This typical process, which involves all employees, leads to greater focus and discipline, as well as better coordination and alignment between all departments. We are starting to speak a common language. At the same time, a very innovative mindset has been established over time.
What influence does esome’s corporate culture have on the success of OKR?
Christoph: The most critical element of our corporate culture, which is indispensable for a successful implementation of OKR, is the team-oriented collective. This fundamental idea that we want to achieve our goals in the best possible way, thanks to the trust and close cooperation, drives us. However, OKRs will help us deal with emerging challenges and optimize our error culture. “Speak up” is also a value that I strongly associate with OKR. The most relevant input is not tied to a hierarchical framework but can come from anyone and everyone – regardless of position.
Stefan: I think the success of OKR and the corporate culture influence each other. A corporate culture like esome helps to implement the process faster. On the other hand, the OKR way of working also affects the corporate culture. At esome, we are change tested since our constant is change and the openness of colleagues to new things. As Christoph has already said, we are very good at dealing with things that don’t run optimally. We can derive added value from it as long as we learn something. This mindset is now once again fueled by OKRs.
Looking back, would you introduce the method again?
Christoph: Definitely. Our experience over the last three years has clearly shown that esome has benefited from OKRs in many places and will benefit even more in the future. However, it is important that each company individually answers for itself what it wants to achieve with implementation and what it is also willing to give out to involve all employees. In my opinion, it is the best framework to keep employees motivated, to get more purpose in their work, to be able to react faster to changes, to be more dynamically positioned overall, and to use the expertise of all employees in the company. In this way, everyone actively contributes to the company’s success, which is incredibly valuable for alignment at all levels.
Stefan: Like any other tool, the framework can, of course, be misused, and there is no patent remedy for successful implementation. But there is incredible value in the fact that we have already taken the first steps in the right direction. We’ve been able to identify what works and what doesn’t. As a result, the process we are using now also makes sense for each team. However, since this process is based mainly on further development and constant optimization, there is still no end here. However, we are very satisfied with the current status we have achieved so far.