Audacious goals, 10x growth – how can you mimic Google’s powerful OKR system?

Well well, Googles’s 10X growth may strike us all with awe. Amazon, Apple, Intel, Linkedin, Huawei and many are blustering with humongous growth in a short period of time but let’s get behind the scenes of these corporate giants –  the winning strategy of these companies lies big in the part of execution than just coming up with the great ideas. Ideas are great, but success is determined by how well the ideas are executed. Action is the key, not any action yields results, prioritizing the most pressing and eliminating the unwanted is pivotal.

For leaders and entrepreneurs, a framework that helps transform your approach from setting goals to creating a dedicated, inspiration-driven work environment, where you have the room to aim for the impossible would be life-changing. OKR is such one (or the one) – a simple goal-setting system but with a lot more meaning.

Okay! what does OKR do?  Simply, it aligns the organization’s goals from top-level to individuals, motivates high performance, then measures its progress and allows feedback & improvement – all that with crystal clear transparency across the setting.

Objectives and Key results:

Objectives are “Where you want to go” and Key results are “How are you planning to go there?”. Key results are usually two or more and they are measurable  – like you can tell whether you did it or not. Finally, completing all the key results means your Objective is done. If not, you missed the point. That cannot be an OKR.

And yet, Objectives cannot be two things: underplaying; when individuals did not set ambitious enough goals for themselves and bosses using objectives as a means of putting pressure on the team members. In the OKR game, there are no Bosses. Leaders and entrepreneurs turn into coaches, mentors, guides, and colleagues or friends, after all, they are all working towards one common goal.

Why is it any different?

  • First, you set your own objectives, whether you are a CEO or L1 associate. You will know “what” and “How” unlike the old methods.
  • Second, It is not a metric that is measured for your performance appraisal. Hmm – yes!
  • Transparent and public (usually posted or displayed at your desk or on the board), promotes cross-functional and tracks monthly, quarterly or half-yearly.
  • Last, but not least, OKR objectives are inspiration driven – which means who doesn’t want to be a part of something audaciously big and daring that makes history.

Secret Ingredients:

If  you don’t know where you are going, you probably might not get there – Yogi Berra 

  • Focus: OKR impels leaders to find out what is most pressing that must be addressed immediately or the most important items that would make a real difference in changing our lives for better. Equally, checking off the unimportant, less-value items from the priority is crucial.
  • Align goals: With transparency at its core, OKR aligns goals from CEO down or horizontal or somewhat bottom-up. Here you cannot let people put their efforts on wrong things or – on the same things (redundancy – killer of time and money). Goals are public and visible to all, promotes progress and collaboration.
  • More importantly, as humans, we crave emotional validation and belongingness to put our fullest into action. Linking your goals with the leaders you believe in gives a sense of importance and inspiration.
  • Track Progress: OKR demands a mindset shift from “Set them, Forget them” to “Set them, Track them” your goals and its progress. It facilitates frequent informal check-in meetings that champion attentive conversation, constructive feedback, and recognition. In OKR you will not wait till annual review to address if your goals are not coming through as expected. The check-in advocates any change of direction, modification or even re-writing the goal itself if required.
  • Reach full potential: If your goals are set to improve by 10 percent, then you are probably doing the same thing. you might not fail, but grand success is far-off. OKR encourages setting high-risk goals and attaining one’s full potential. It understands what it means to motivate people and have them mission-inspired because pursuing high-risk goals demands high commitment from your employees.

All that said, OKR is powerful and healthy only if you can use common sense, the trait that only humans possess.  Strong leadership, sound judgment, profound decision-making skills, work ethics, creative workplace culture and such are not replaceable by any tool, and success is majorly driven by the above mentioned.

 

 

Guided walkthroughs: Less is enough

Reading is fun if it is a gripping crime novel or a juicy mainstream story. It’s not the case to many when they are pages of software documentation such as User Guides or installation guides or instruction manuals – especially when you are trying to get more things done than scuffling over pages of help documentation.

Though concepts like contextual help, snippets, tutorials and such are easing the pain, we have a new game-changer in the market. A few callouts popping up one by one telling you what to do where, right on time, steering you through each step all the way – and, not having to stop to click F1 for help is definitely a better way to get yourself around a new digital application.

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They are called guided walkthroughs –  an interactive on-screen guidance becoming ubiquitous among the new entries in the IT. Almost every new application is making a flaunting launch with these guided tours –  promising simplified installation and usage, quick and high results on user adoption, onboarding and change management.

Humans are wired to resist change though it is inevitable. Embracing change is not as sweet as it sounds for users who are accustomed to doing things a certain way for most of their lives.  When a digital transformation is announced not many employees are as thrilled as the leaders and it is natural for them to dread the process of learning and adoption. Unless you tease your users with the benefits of the new application and the armor to ease the transition.

These walkthrough guides and tours handholding through the learning curve can make anybody feel comfortable in the new platform, that they are making progress and already achieving simpler tasks, thus establishing a quick connection with the product. Giving such user experience on the early use of your product achieves higher user adoption –  and happy users talk. A genuine user recommendation goes a long way in digital marketing.

In this fast-forward world “how quickly” is imperative now more than ever. Ever changing human needs demand new technologies, and one couldn’t agree more that these new guided walkthroughs come with all bells and whistles, it is everything we ever wanted. Although, I personally feel these are encouraging narrow definitive skillsets preventing in-depth learning style which promotes creative\innovative thinking and problem-solving abilities. The handholding guidance eliminates the research and in-depth knowledge of the product and might not serve to produce subject matter experts in the field.

How technical is Technical Writing?

This post is for someone who googles “what is Technical Writing?”

Well, most of us think Technical Writing is not very technical, also a bit of clerical as it doesn’t involve much coding. The common assumptions are that if you had written an essay in your college, you can make it through in a technical writing career. People outside the industry think it is too easy and inside the industry could easily assume it is an insignificant job. But believe me, it is all wrongly presumed. Like any other skill, Technical writing can be interesting and rewarding too, as much as any IT career.

Technical Writing definitely does not limit itself with good English knowledge. There is a huge difference between communication skills and technical writing skills. You have to get that right first. Writing clear, concise, not too dramatic but to the point, product focused\ user-focused documentation skills are the basics. If you have nailed your writing skills, then Technical writing can hook you up with a bit more interesting ventures of its own, especially with the recent trends that are emerging. I will list some of them below:

API Documentation: APIs are a piece of software that is being used to establish a connection between the other two applications or products. As this idea is been commercialized, these scenarios have a third party developer who is trying to understand the API to proceed with the integration. To help him understand the API faster, a documentation describing how to use the API is sent along. This is called API documentation and can be done by Swagger, Postman, and other popular open sources.

XML Authoring: You can do ready-made XML authoring if you know major XML editors such as Madcap Flare or OXyGEN XML editors and others in the market. XML authoring enables you to reuse the content in various incredible ways, such as single-sourcing where one content can be built as a user guide with an overview or an Online help with topics or an instructions guide just with How-to documents. Also, any piece of content or images can be reused across the project with Snippets, conditions and variables usage in XML authoring.

DITA: Before I say anything, let’s wipe that foggy glass. DITA is not an authoring tool or it is a template for writing. It is a suggested framework that helps to build content in small individual topics that can be reused across the output types that you are planning.

UX Writing: UX writer works with the software developer to write labels for the menus, buttons, error messages, warnings or any instruction texts that appear on the product. UX writing is transitioned from just labels to rich conversation experiences humanizing your product. something like this!

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And, of course, get your hands on the tools that are required to get these jobs done. Being a Technical Writer, you cannot skip MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, Frame Maker for Help authoring and Swagger, Postman, RAML, Rest APIs for API documentation. Learning Photoshop and video creating tools will add value. I have only listed what I been lucky enough to learn as Technical Writer for the past 6 years. Technical Writing deliverables are many and vary as per the industry requirement. As for IT, the above will get you started.

Wish you luck!

 

 

Lifestyle trends of 2019

2019 was a year for Health, Fitness, Lifestyle, and Wellness. One couldn’t agree that more seeing the top items that made to the list of “The Popular Lifestyle trends of the year”. The buzz you must have been intrigued with, followed or tried, but not missed to notice. In case you have, let’s look at what 2019 brought to us, and get ready to expect nothing less than more thrilling 2020.

  • Cauliflower craze: Bon Apetit with Cauliflower; the most common Cauliflower vegetable suddenly became the buzz in the health industry.  Everything you love can be made with cauliflower today. The favorite vegetable replaced rice, flour, pizza crust, and other simple carbs, then eventually Mashed Cauliflower is born like mashed potatoes.
  • Home workout: The simple idea of watching a workout routine on your TV and following along was never new, though the idea is totally reimagined in 2019. Cutting down the costume drama and travel, home workout sessions are now the smart one’s choice. Live stream workout routines from your favorite celebrity trainers or download hundreds of them for later use. No time for the gym is not an excuse that will be approved anymore.
  • Air Frying: Our love for fried food never goes away how much ever you try, neither the extra calories, which is why we are grateful for 2019 to introduce us to the Air fryer. This sassy kitchen appliance helps you fry or cook anything you want with hot air and with little to no oil.
  • Intermittent Fasting: Don’t Skip breakfast, breakfast is the most important meal of the day are the mantras of the past. 2019 exempts the old and gold advice and introduced Intermittent fasting. The dieting technique becomes so famous this year that it breaks your day into two windows; A fasting window and an eating window. This 16:8 rule of eating not only claims to help in weight loss but also good for your gut and microbiome.
  • Guided Meditation: Meditation and its benefits are known to all but understood by few and done correctly by fewer. This year we lightened the idea with many guided meditation apps and hmm… there seem no hard rules for mediation. Headspace and other apps become incredibly famous among the millennials and others in the technology industry.
  • Vitamins as Gummies: Taking health supplements is not a well-known choice for us all until recently when all the necessary vitamins are packed as gummy candies. 2019 offered adult vitamin gummies in the market now you can just pop a shot of vitamins, melatonin or biotin on the go.

Change is the only thing that doesn’t change. Newyear means new ideas, new inventions and a whole new life with much more potential and possibilities. Never hold yourself back from trying new things and immerse yourself with new experiences. Wish you a very Happy 2020.