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Between the company’s founding in the late 1990s and today, Google’s headcount grew from 40 employees to more than 180,000, and global revenues are now north of $300 billion. This dramatic growth can be attributed to many factors, including the company’s unique products and services. However, another factor that’s not so well known also played a significant role: objectives and key results (OKRs).  

OKRs were originally conceptualized by Andy Grove from Intel. Google adopted OKRs in its inaugural year, and their success at Google helped spur the strategy’s widespread use among tech giants and non-tech companies alike. 

Despite the popularity of OKRs, C-level executives often overlook the vital connection between IT initiatives and business outcomes. This oversight hinders their ability to capitalize on the full potential of OKRs. OKRs translate a company’s strategy into an easy-to-understand roadmap that guides every team member and lets them see how their work fits into overall company goals.  

Leveraging the synergy between OKRs and value stream management (VSM) can help enterprises align their software teams with the C-suite's goals, and, in the process, improve agility and business outcomes. 


The Synergy between OKRs and VSM 

OKRs and VSM complement each other perfectly, helping teams achieve the common goal of delivering value efficiently, within defined timelines. Integrating VSM into the OKR process helps address challenges, such as: 

  • Misaligned Priorities 
  • Complex Infrastructure 
  • Technical Debt 
  • Inefficient Delivery 

When teams combine OKRs with VSM, organizations can tackle the problems created by these challenges. 

With VSM platforms, business leaders can assign value metrics, such as OKRs, to value streams, prioritize work based on value, measure actual value delivered, and compare results with expected outcomes. 

For enterprises pursuing this kind of improvement strategy, OKRs can be a great tool for software teams to use to align their work with what the C-suite cares most about: outcomes. OKRs and VSM can work together to help teams achieve their overarching goal of figuring out what matters and getting that accomplished in a time-bound, efficient manner to improve performance and deliver value. 


Advantages of VSM Platforms 

VSM platforms can provide significant advantages in harnessing the potential of OKRs. VSM platforms enable business leaders to assign target value metrics, such as OKRs, to value streams. These platforms can also help DevOps leaders more effectively: 

  • Prioritize work based on value 
  • Measure value delivered 
  • Compare expected and actual value 

ValueOps by Broadcom is a leading platform in the VSM space. This comprehensive software solution optimizes the flow of work across an organization. ValueOps helps teams focus on value delivery by visualizing and analyzing end-to-end value streams. This approach enables teams to identify bottlenecks, streamline processes, and improve overall efficiency.  

ValueOps supports various methodologies, including Agile, Lean, and DevOps, making it a versatile platform for organizations pursuing continuous improvement. 


3 Strategies for Creating Effective OKRs 

Here are 3 strategies for creating effective OKRs for software delivery value streams: 


1) Measure Baseline Performance 

Measuring baseline performance for the flow of work across the software delivery value stream is a key steppingstone, so it must be the very first objective for IT teams. Determining a baseline will help establish your team's current speed and efficiency in delivering strategic initiatives.  

VSM comes into play when measuring large-scale product delivery involves an array of systems, people, and workflows. VSM solutions provide the insights and intelligence that help teams collect data from all contributors, components, and departments.  

With VSM solutions, teams gain visibility across end-to-end value streams and measure speed, velocity, flow load, and efficiency. Without this intelligence as a baseline, committing to a set of new objectives becomes impossible. 

2) Align IT and Business Outcomes 

The next ideal step is to ensure that all stakeholders, leaders, and members of the value stream are accountable for specific business outcomes. Find out more in our articleLeadership Superpower: Align Strategy and Execution with OKRs.”  

Reaching a consensus on these outcomes will go a long way toward determining how to make the changes needed to ensure the value stream’s goals are achieved. The inevitable negotiations around priorities, tradeoffs, and payback will be much easier with this framework in place. 

3) Foster Continuous Improvement 

Once baseline metrics are established and people are aligned around business outcomes, you can start using OKRs to improve flow in supporting specific results. You can also start tracking progress on a quarterly basis, in line with budget cycles. Through this review, you can introduce faster feedback loops and course corrections, fueling continuous improvement.  

For each value stream, you can gain an end-to-end view of flow load, work distribution, speed, efficiency, and team capacity metrics. Now, you can accurately spot bottlenecks and determine where you must shift attention and resources.  

OKRs can act as the translator between strategic objectives and the measurable, day-to-day work of the teams delivering value to the market. To learn more, read our article “KPIs and OKRs: Employing Both to Get to the Next Level.”  


Finding the Right Approach to Adopting OKRs 

Google's success with OKRs is inspiring. However, blindly copying the company’s approach can lead to common implementation mistakes. No one-size-fits-all method for adopting OKRs exists, even within Google.  

To maximize the benefits of OKRs, your company needs to combine them with VSM and continuous improvement, Lean-Agile methods. Through this strategic approach, IT teams more closely align with broader business goals and maximize the power of OKRs in boosting business outcomes. 


If you want to learn more about our VSM platform, and how it can provide the critical metrics integration your teams need, be sure to contact the Broadcom ValueOps team today. 

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