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OKRs explained through Harry Potter

Harry banished Lord Voldemort in The Sorcerer’s Stone, but that doesn’t mean that he completed his first objective and obtained the key result.

Mari Luukkainen
Mari Luukkainen
8 min read
OKRs explained through Harry Potter

Even though 2020 and 2021 have taught us that unexpected things can mess up our long-term planning, that doesn’t mean that you should leave everything to the wind. Remember what Harry Potter said in The Deathly Hallows Part 1?

“When have any of our plans ever actually worked?”

But that still didn’t stop them from coming up with a strategy. So, as a business owner, it is essential to know your goals and work toward them for your company’s better future. One effective way of planning and working on your objectives is the OKR method.

If you have had a terrifying encounter with OKR methodology, the thought of using it now must leave you shaking in your boots. But, don’t worry, we are here to help you make sense of it using one of the most famous fantasy movie series: Harry Potter.

So, it’s going to be scary like Hermione, but also the results will be brilliant. So, let’s begin and don’t let the muggles get you down.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for objectives and key results. These are individual or team goal-setting process that facilitates business growth. In this methodology, objectives are the starting point, flowing towards key results which measure the progress made on the objective. Objectives need to be unambiguous and ambitious, so the team stays motivated throughout the process.

Before allotting objectives to team members, ensure that every team member has less than three objectives. Moreover, it is perfectly well if an aim is a little vague. However, the key results must be specific and measurable.

So, let’s apply this to the famous Harry Potter movie characters:

Harry Potter

Objectives:

  1. Defeat Voldemort and save the magic world.
  2. Obtain love and family.

These objectives are vague as they don’t tell how Potter is supposed to achieve these goals. However, they are specific and motivating.

Key Results:

  1. Harry killed Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts by using The Disarming Charm spell.
  2. Harry stayed close to his friends that later turned into his family as he married Ron’s sister Ginny Weasley.

Hermione Granger

Objectives:

Learn every piece of information about the wizarding world and master all the spells.

Key Results:

Hermione spent most of her time reading books, collecting information, and practicing magic charms and spells. This is how she could also create her own The Four-Point spell.

However, one team’s key results can also become another team’s objective. For example, Harry’s key results include maintaining close friendships. And that can be Hermione’s objective of becoming Harry’s friend and using the learned spell as she was helping him defeat his enemies.

Characteristics of Key Results

Not every result can be counted as key results. For example, Harry banished Lord Voldemort in The Sorcerer’s Stone, but that doesn’t mean that he completed his first objective and obtained the key result. His first objective’s key result is killing Voldemort once and for all, achieved in part 2 of Deathly Hollows. So, the key results must have these characteristics to declare they have been completed.

  1. It should be relevant to the objective and must not deviate from it.
  2. The effects of the key results should show instantly. This means it should not take a while to observe the results after completing an objective.
  3. Everyone should understand the key result. It should be precise and not vague like the objective.
  4. The identified result is the actual key result, and some other element is not measured as the key result.

If applying these characteristics to Hermione’s key results, her primary focus stayed on learning and practicing new spells throughout the whole series. Even though she knew most spells, she didn’t mean she could administer them as she accidentally turned herself into a cat.

So, looking from every perspective, it is clear that she got closer to achieving her key result as the series progressed, but she mastered all spells in the last movie. As a result, she became Minister of Magic, clearly showing that she had achieved her key result successfully.

How to manage multiple OKRs?

You can have multiple OKRs simultaneously, but you need to ensure that the number doesn’t exceed 5 OKRs. The maximum number of OKRs you should have at a time is 3 to 5. It is challenging to manage multiple OKRs, especially if they have numerous key results.

Therefore, instead of having multiple objectives, create multiple key results from an objective. This way, you will be better able to focus on the objective while acquiring more results. Moreover, you can also eliminate goals if they are not needed anymore.

For example, Ron Weasley’s objective was to achieve more than his brothers because their accomplishments always outshone his. But he later left this objective to help Harry defeat Voldemort and to sort out his feelings for Hermione

So, evaluating it from a broad perspective ended up well for him as he was one of the main characters responsible for saving the Wizarding World.

That is why prioritize which objectives are important and which ones are better to discard.

How to grade OKRs?

OKRs are graded on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0. 1.0 means that you have completed an OKR successfully in this scoring system, and any score below 0.6 is poor. A poor score means you need to make more effort to ensure you get better results next time.

Also consider key results as an objective with more than one key result graded differently. Mostly, you are graded on the cadence period that is the duration you have spent working on an objective and obtaining its key results.

You can create a schedule and do grading accordingly. Grading OKRs is similar to House Points. The better you perform, the higher the chances of obtaining better grades.

Types of OKRs

There are three types of OKRs:

  • Committed
  • Aspirational
  • Learning

1. Committed OKRs

Similar to its name committed OKRs target commitments. They are the commitment to setting a goal or an objective. In committed OKRs, you determine which goals you should arrange for yourself and your team while considering whether they are achievable or not. During grading, committed OKRs only have a passing grading score.

Harry promises Cedric Diggory to retrieve his remains from the Little Hangleton graveyard as he was killed there during the Triwizard Tournament. Harry’s commitment later brought a key result of Harry delivering Cedric’s body to his father.

2. Aspirational OKRs

Aspirational OKRs are also called stretch goals or moonshots. These OKRs are used for creating new pathways which don’t exist before. They are usually long-term, ambitious, and lofty, which means completing them is near impossible.

If Ron set up an objective of becoming the best wizard in the Wizard World, he would need to work in it long term, but he still may not achieve this goal. He can become a good wizard with effort, but being the best is setting the bar too high.

3. Learned OKRs

Learning OKRs are set to use new methods and experimenting with them to meet an objective. When making a learning OKR, focus on what you don’t know and how you would like to change that. The primary purpose of this OKR is to work on a hypothesis and find its solution.

Harry and his friends assumed that professor Snape was in league with Voldemort and tried to jinx Harry’s broom in the Quidditch World Cup. First, they tried to unearth that he was evil. However, later they found out that he was helping Harry and Professor Quirrell was the real Voldemort accomplice.

The benefits of creating OKRs

There are multiple benefits of creating OKRs as they help you organize your goals and provide a perspective to achieve them. For example, who knows if Harry and his friends could have defeated Voldemort sooner if they also had OKRs (just kidding). See all the advantages of creating OKRs that Harry could have gotten either.

Complete focus

Creating OKRs allows you and your team to focus on the goal and help them work toward it without getting distracted. This helps them categorize their priorities and tackle them one by one to reach the end goal.

Goals alignment

With OKRs, you can align your goals with your organization. Due to this, you all reach the end goal simultaneously. When you all achieve the goals simultaneously, it also benefits the organization.

Looking at it from Harry Potter’s perspective, even though all of them were working separately on their objectives, they all had their key results simultaneously.

Good commitment

For OKRs to succeed, you need to be fully committed to the objectives. You can easily get sidetracked or shift your commitments to other goals without the main result in sight. But an OKR ensures that your commitment and priorities are straight, so you don’t deviate from them.

Tracking process

It is easier to track your progress with an identified OKR. As you well know your goals, objectives, and key results, you can keep track of your progress across every stage. Another advantage of keeping track of your OKRs progress is knowing how much work you have left to reach your key results.

Expanding your limits

OKRs, mainly aspirational OKRs, help you get out of your limits and try to achieve the unachievable. It may seem impossible to set an objective, but you can figure out the best way to tackle it and bring a significant change with a proper system.

We can see how setting OKRs in the Philosopher Stone movie helped Harry and his friends achieve their key results. They each knew what roles they had to play to help Harry reach the last chamber. If they didn’t realize that, it would have been impossible for Harry to pass all the traps.

Common OKR mistakes to avoid

Creating OKRs is a skill that comes with time and practice. So, you might not be able to write a good OKR that is achievable or timely deliverable. That is why you need to learn which common mistakes everyone makes and avoid them. Even though you require time and practice to develop this skill, it will come quickly when you know what mistakes you can accidentally make.

Don’t forget to incorporate feedback

Feedback is essential to progress forward. It would be best if you learned your shortcomings to surpass them. So, if you forget to follow the previous feedback while writing new OKRs, it can become a problem. You may write an objective that is out of your depth. Even though you should challenge yourself from time to time, knowing your limit helps you create achievable goals.

Imagine what would have happened if Harry had never listened to Dumbledore’s advice? Undoubtedly, he wouldn’t have become a great wizard and could fulfill his destiny of defeating Lord Voldemort.

Making a draft

You need to make a draft before assigning objectives to every team member. This way, you don’t create unrealistic goals that your team members cannot achieve. So, make a rough draft and do multiple checks to see if your goals suit your team members.

Not putting pressure on team

You need to keep your expectations accurate and remember that your team might not achieve all the key results. Another thing you should not forget is that OKRs are created to push your team and not to assume that the performance will be precise to the key results. So, make sure you motivate your team and not pressure them to attain unattainable goals.

Differentiate between OKR and KPI

Don’t confuse OKRs with KPIs. KPIs are values showing how effectively you are achieving your key objectives. Meanwhile, OKR is the tool for setting practical goals and communicating with your team how you wish them to accomplish them. So make sure that you remember the difference before creating OKRs.

Conclusion

You might be scared of OKRs but be brave like Harry was throughout the fantasy series. He was also pretty scared every time he faced a challenge, but overcame each impediment because he had straight priorities.

So, keep your eyes on the result and help your team create sound OKRs. This way, you all reach the desired end goal.

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