The OKR Champion - Who, Why, What?


  • Author Paul Niven
  • Published April 11, 2019
  • Word count 409

The OKR Champion

I've had the privilege over the past two decades to consult with more than 200 global organizations on strategy execution, OKRs and Change Management. One of the questions I get asked most, and one that my experience gives me a unique perspective to answer, is: "How does an organization succeed with Objectives & Key Results?" While there are multiple factors to a successful implementation of OKRs - executive sponsorship, having a strategy in place, quality Objectives, outcome-oriented results - one often overlooked but crucial success factor is designating an OKR Champion to lead the implementation. This person manages the OKR process both logistically and philosophically, and is in many ways becomes "beating heart" of OKRs within the organization.

What Does an OKR Champion Do?

Outlined below are just some of the many roles the Champion will play:

  • Works with the executive team to establish timelines (when OKRs are to be set, reviewed, scored, etc.)

  • Serves as in-house subject matter expert for the effort (reads books, articles, attends webinars, liaises with consultants, etc.)

  • Leads in-house training programs

  • Acts as lead administrator for software

  • Lead resource for developing OKR internal communications

  • Manages the program budget

  • Facilitates OKR Ambassador meetings

  • Tracks progress against overall strategic plan

  • Defines a repeatable process for collecting, sharing, and leveraging data on results, and tracking progress against success criteria

  • Serves as initial escalation point for issues related to the OKR effort

  • Ensures initial alignment of OKRs

  • Researches and provides input to executives on potential linkages, e.g. performance reviews and incentive compensation

  • Liaises with OKR Coach on progress of Implementation

Who Should Be the OKR Champion?

To find the optimal OKR Champion for your organization look for someone who is able to liaise easily and comfortably with all levels of the organization, including the C-level suite. A background in performance measurement is helpful, but not a prerequisite for success. We've found that individuals who have a passion for OKRs and strategy execution are often the best suited for the role, despite the lack of formal education either discipline. OKRs can be taught, but passion and excitement are intrinsic characteristics and ultimately invaluable qualities necessary to champion an OKR initiative through the entire organization.

Lastly, and pragmatically, depending on the size of your organization, you should be prepared to have the Champion devote 50% of their job to OKRs at the outset of the implementation, maybe even more. This commitment will decrease as your process becomes more mature.

Paul Niven is a Global OKR Coach with, and the author of Objectives and Key Results, Driving Focus, Alignment and Engagement with OKRs.

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