Why is it so hard for so many companies to combine OKR with Scrum? This article deals with this question and shows a way to run both Scrum and OKR successfully.
In one of my last articles, I wrote about combining OKR with the 3-horizons model. You can read more about it here.
The 3 horizons model shows that a company should focus on short-term operational goals, medium-term goals to expand the business model, and long-term goals to develop new market segments.
But how do Scrum and agile product development fit into an OKR cycle?
Scrum is an agile framework. But many companies and teams do not use Scrum for agile product development but run pseudo-Scrum in feature factories. They don’t care about creating value in the form of innovative features and products but only work off tickets they get from other stakeholders like the project department, sales, or support. As a result, the pseudo-Scrum-Teams are always under pressure of the next deadline and largely cut off from the user, the market, and innovative developments. This happens especially when agile working and agile development starts and stops only with the development team, but the rest of the company is stuck in outdated management methods and organizational structures. Therefore, there is also a very strong diversification in departments along functions and thus silo thinking. Often this silo thinking results in individual managers in the departments pursuing their departmental goals and thus creating local optima for the department. The global optimum for the company is often forgotten. To solve this problem and to achieve a new kind of agile management, OKR is often introduced.
OKR sets a focus on business goals and enables teams to work autonomously on these business goals — at least in theory because if the company does not form interdisciplinary OKR teams across departments, OKR does not solve these problems. On the contrary — it even creates additional problems because suddenly Scrum teams are confronted with the conflict of how to run Scrum on the one hand and how to work in OKR on the other hand.