Updated: May 12, 2022
The UFRJ Nautilus is a team composed of five areas and more than fifty members, focused on producing the best innovation in the area of autonomous vehicles. That is why it is important to use effective management strategies in order to keep the members aligned with the team's goals.
OKR management is a tool for guiding and executing organizational strategy. It consists of an objective and its key results, which are the indicators that the objective is being achieved. This tool was invented at Intel during the 1970s and has been used by Google since the company's first year, in 1999. In Brazil, companies like Nubank and OLX also make use of OKRs.
We can establish some advantages of using OKRs over using other more traditional methods. These include:
First, we need to understand that to establish the OKRs of an institution (be it a company or a competition team) we first define the strategic OKRs, which have a duration cycle of 3 to 10 years, covering the goals of that whole institution. Then we establish the general goals for a one-year period and we break them down to the different sectors or areas of the team in shorter, half-yearly, or quarterly goals. This way we have a more flexible follow-up model that allows us to check the progress of the goals in a short period of time and correct whatever is necessary.
Setting the goals bilaterally
Unlike a rigid hierarchy model where managers define the goals of the company and the teams that work in it without consulting the other employees, OKRs can be defined both by managers in general and by areas and employees individually, as long as they align their goals with the macro objectives set by the company.
They are not related to remuneration
OKRs do not evaluate employee performance, but rather whether team goals are being met. Therefore, it is important that it is not attached to a pay-for-performance system. Such systems usually make it easier and more achievable for the employee to set goals in order to be rewarded for results. OKR goals should be ambitious and hard to achieve, so the percentage of completion of that goal should not be taken into consideration as much as what was actually achieved by meeting that percentage of the goal.
Focus on results (not effort)
OKRs help us define both whether our goals are the ones that should be prioritized at the moment (since the goals should be few) and whether our efforts are being sufficient and productive to achieve them. In this way, by measuring whether we are meeting the objectives based on the results we are having, we can define what is working and what is not in the efforts we put in and the strategies we use to execute the projects, and how we can improve and use them.
Use at Nautilus
Therefore, UFRJ Nautilus could not fail to implement this strategy, to keep the members of the different areas engaged in the team's objectives. The OKR cycles used are annual and focused on ensuring good performance at RoboSub.
Each area also has its own objectives and key results, aligned with the team's overall objective, which must be followed periodically (usually every six months) and modified according to any changes in the projects.
Written by Lidia Paúra and Layla Venâncio