When Goals Lose Touch with Tasks
One of the most frustrating OKR struggles is maintaining integration with actual work like Asana tasks, Jira tickets, and GitHub pull requests. Despite intense planning, objectives often quickly drift into abstraction as teams funnel focus back to those pressing items.
The core problem: individuals lose motivation when their daily jobs seem disconnected from OKRs. They don't see clearly how their work ladders up to big-picture goals. This responsibility often falls on managers to constantly explain why certain tasks matter.
But what if we could visually show how each piece contributes? This clarity is precisely what gets lost as the link between real work and ambitious goals grows unclear. Carefully designed initiatives stall without context.
The answer lies in tangibly bridging the gap between high-level OKRs and ground-level work. With visual connectivity, teams gain purpose and see line-of-sight to broader objectives.
Causes of the Connection Gap
On the surface, OKRs can seem cleanly aligned with work. But several gaps can brew beneath:
For example, an engineering team doesn't connect Jira ticket to their "Launch recommendations" objective. A marketing group's analytics omit an OKR's progress. Support reps don't associate issues with a customer wait time goal.
Though OKRs are defined, tasks diverge without deliberate linkage. Teams focus narrowly on immediate needs, losing sight of broader objectives.
This disconnect has several sources - siloed goal tools, unclear work-to-goal mapping, invisible progress, cross-functional blindspots, short-term prioritization over long-term goals.
Over time, well-formed OKRs transform into disconnected abstractions. The vital feedback loop between work and objectives frays as alignment and tracking superpowers weaken. Avoid this fate by bridging goals directly into daily flow.
Bridging the Canyon
Restoring relevance requires tightly linking OKRs to the actual tools and workflows where work takes place. Some solutions include:
- Integrate OKRs directly into task management apps like Asana, Jira, Trello to interconnect goals and work. For example, associate key results to projects and map initiatives to tasks to visualize alignment.
- Embed OKR progress metrics into dashboards and reports used for daily work. An engineering team could display a "launch recommendations" objective's progress right on their product roadmap to connect tasks to the goal.
- Require linking new operational work items like support tickets or product backlogs directly to OKR initiatives during intake. This immediately connects work to objectives.
- Facilitate cross-functional planning and mapping of interdependencies between team OKRs. Enable teams to visually see how supporting one another's objectives connects work across the organization.
With this seamless bi-directional connectivity between OKRs and work systems, objectives transform from isolated aspirations into guiding forces that shape tangible priorities. Work gains purpose and momentum as it directly supports organizational goals.
Don't Allow Detached OKRs
At the end of the day, OKRs are meant to connect vision to execution. They transform strategy into tangible work that moves the organization forward. But as we've seen, it's surprisingly easy for even thoughtfully-crafted goals to become disconnected abstractions.
Don't allow this to happen to your OKRs. Be vigilant in deliberately and continuously linking objectives to actual work systems and tasks. Integrate goals into the tools and workflows that power your organization. Bridge the canyon through bi-directional visibility and mapping.
With this seamless connectivity, you can unlock the superpowers of alignment and tracking. OKRs become not just words in a document but guiding forces that shape priorities and propel progress.
In the next article, we'll explore another common OKR pitfall - complexity that hinders usability. Stay tuned for more insights on making your OKR journey smooth and simple.