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Building Alignment with an OKR Marketplace

Updated: February 25, 2022

At SKILLIFRE we’ve been exploring the wonderful world of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with many top companies around Australia for several years, and along the way, we’ve learnt a thing or two.

In this blog, we share a method for setting OKRs in a large group setting, the OKR Marketplace! In this exercise, teams set their own OKRs and share them with other teams around the business in order to gain support from the other teams, and commit to helping them out.

This is done by teams embracing goals from other teams as their own. Of course, this is not for all the other team’s goals, but just the ones where the other teams need your help.

Note, this blog assumes you understand basic OKR concepts and have used them previously. If not, we have a brief intro to OKRs.


Why is this a valuable method?

Have you ever been in a situation, where in order to achieve your goal, you need help from another team or business unit? We’ve all been there. And the challenge lies in these teams having their own work to do, and dependencies to manage.

What if we could have them commit to our goals? Well, that’s the real power behind OKRs: parallel alignment between otherwise independent teams.


How do you run an OKR marketplace?

There’s no right and wrong, but here’s an approach that we’ve found works well. Remember, this is always changing and evolving as we hone our skills, but we’ll aim to keep this updated.


1. High-level intent from the top and consider team goals (Pre-Workshop)

Whether it is OKRs set at the top of the organisation or high-level themes, ideally, we want some level of direction to align the teams below. Don’t have that? No stress. Look at the company strategy and any other sources of direction (which may include a portfolio of work, customer pain points, or business opportunities) and agree with the leadership team above what the high-level focus areas are.

With that high-level intent from the top, each team spends some time agreeing on high-level outcomes for the quarter, framed with as OKRs or simply some metrics they want to hit. Only an hour or so is needed.


2. Kick the marketplace off

Assemble the teams and speak to the intent of the workshop explaining what the benefits are. Ask the attendees what their hopes are for the day -by replaying the outcomes we’ll ensure understanding.

During this time, talk to the high-level goals or themes from the top of the organisation.


3. Put your team OKRs up on the wall (or on our handy template linked below)

Now that the teams understand the high-level intent for the quarter and have already considered their goals, give them time to discuss their OKRs and capture them on the wall for all to see. Don’t finesse the language or lock down the key result metrics, but ensure the intent is clear.

For this activity, we tend to follow these steps:

  1. Discuss the impact of the goals from the top have had, if any, on your goals – 15 min
  2. Align on what the amended OKRs are for your team and capture them on the wall – 30 min
  3. Identify, which Key Results need other teams’ support and put that team’s name against it – 10 min
  4. Aim to limit your key results to 2-3 per objective to allow for you to add other teams’ objectives


3. Create your marketplace stall

Have each team write up their name and OKRs on the wall (or on our handy template linked below) so that they’re easy to see when people wander the room. Teams should only have between 2-4 Objectives, so make sure the text is large and easy to read from afar!


4. Run the marketplace

Now each team has their OKRs up on the wall, invite teams to walk around the room and hear about what the other teams are focusing on. Have at least one team member stay at their own marketplace to pitch what they’re hoping to achieve in the quarter.

While this is happening, have a representative of each team walk over to the teams that they’re dependent on and validate if they can help. If the team can help, add that dependency as a Key Result to one of their objectives. Remember there may not be a clean fit, so be prepared to wordsmith an objective to encompass the other team’s key result.

As a facilitator, your role is to walk the room and encourage the flow of information and conversation. Help the teams join the dots and create connections where they need support. If you get a moment, this is a great chance to provide feedback on the quality of OKRs.

Depending on the size of the room, after about 20-30 minutes, you’ll notice the energy slowing. It’s at this point you want to wrap up the exercise, but not before asking “Does everyone have the support they need for the quarter ahead?” And “ Are there any outstanding questions”. If not, proceed to wrap up.


5. Take a moment to reflect and gather feedback

Ask the room what goals they found most inspiring. Enquire if there is anything the other teams can do to emulate their success.

As with most things agile, we want to build in continuous improvement. Sessions like this can be taxing, so keep it simple. We like to do a feedback door where people write down on post-it notes what they like, what they were indifferent about and what they disliked.

Don’t forget, make sure you have your facilitation environment set up, with:

  • Large rooms booked well in advance
  • Book out people’s calendars well in advance
  • In the early days, checkpoint with each team in advance to ensure they’re heading down the right path
  • Plenty of facilitation materials such as post its, whiteboards, sharpies and engineer fuel (Cola, lollies, and chips)!


Feel free to use our SKILLFIRE OKR Marketplace Template to capture and share the OKRs in the session.


If you’d like help embedding OKRs within your business, let’s chat! We’ve run a lot of these sessions between Melbourne and Sydney, so reach out if you’d like some tips!