The Role of Key Results

Every organization has biases and preferences surrounding the planning process. Some organizations plan for everything in great detail in order to maximize control over all the relevant variables; some organizations plan as little as possible in order to maximize agility in responding to rapidly changing environments, and the others approach planning from somewhere in between these two extremes. Regardless of how you and/or your organization approach the annual planning process, we recommend that you identify the three to five Key Results that your organization must deliver—Key Results that must be delivered to sustain the organization’s health, well-being, strength, viability, growth, and success. These Key Results should not only be clearly understood by every employee in the organization; they should also consistently guide every employee’s daily decisions regarding work priorities—what work to stop doing, what work to start doing, and what work to continuously improve.

When we recently communicated this to the senior leadership team of a large organization, we received a lot of push back. Their concern was that boiling down the organization’s strategic vision and operational complexity to three, four, or five Key Results would over-simplify, even trivialize, their leadership challenge and stewardship.

Our response was clear and concise: if you can’t boil down your organization’s “must deliverables” to three, four, or five Key Results, then you will never be able to reach levels of accountability and alignment that are substantially higher than where you are right now. If you’re satisfied with where you are when it comes to accountability and alignment, then don’t worry about boiling things down to a few Key Results. If you’re not satisfied, then use your breadth and depth of understanding about the strategic and operational complexities of your business to capture the fundamental, essential “must deliverables” for your organization. Why? Because it will connect all of your employees to the fundamental and essential nature of your business and open up a new pathway to taking greater accountability and to building greater alignment.

The senior leadership team listened to us and, within a few days, developed four Key Results that have already brought more focus, energy, and transformation to the organization than they imagined possible. Needless to say, they are now believers in the simplicity that resides at the far side of complexity. The sooner you identify the three to five Key Results that your organization must deliver to survive and thrive, the sooner you will put your organization on the path to greater accountability and alignment.

To learn more about aligning your organization around the Key Results, check out Accountability Builder.

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