How Qumu Uses OKRs To Tackle Key Business Drivers
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OKRs allow us to create a structure that gives everyone in the organization a purpose that aligns all the way to the CEO, down to the company itself.
Strategy Staff Executive
As a fully remote company, enterprise video engagement platform provider Qumu embraces the "work from wherever, whenever" work style, but collaborating across so many time zones and locations presents as many challenges as opportunities. Qumu has continually looked for ways to ensure every department remains aligned even when teams and employees aren’t always in the same location. Strategy Staff Executive Zach Wright knew that OKRs were the best solution to this problem.
A Qumu executive, at a previous company, had used excel spreadsheets to manage OKRs but was steadfast on leveraging a SaaS application to help with long-term scalability for Qumu. After researching various vendors for the right solution, the executive team was surprised to find Lattice was already being used within their HR organization and decided to leverage the platform for goals. By establishing Lattice as the "final truth" for OKRs, Qumu employees can easily view the goals shared by their team, direct reports, and even executives on a modern interface.
Thanks to his background in organizational psychology, Zach knew how OKRs could bring much-needed alignment, especially to a remote-only company like Qumu. He cites Hackman and Oldham's Job Characteristics Model, an applied theory that identifies characteristics like skill variety, task identity, and task significance as qualities a job must have to keep workers happy and fulfilled. OKRs help Qumu achieve those qualities for its workers, particularly task significance.
"OKRs allow us to create a structure that gives everyone in the organization a purpose that aligns all the way to the CEO, down to the company itself," Zach says. "In short, OKRs help us focus on what we need to, say no to things we don’t need to focus on, and provide alignment across the organization to generate purpose and meaning."
The fact that employees can look at their OKRs and see how their individual tasks contribute to the company's long-term goals is a significant motivator. Zach considers this one of his favorite aspects of the Lattice platform. When employees review their OKRs, they feel connected to the company at a fundamental level, which Zach appreciates. OKRs at Qumu are visible to anyone regardless of their status at the company, and this initiative helps reinforce Qumu's cultural values, including a commitment to transparency.
"As an individual contributor, or even a manager, you can look at the OKRs you're completing and see it roll up into the overall company goal," Zach says. "That purpose and meaning is a huge contributor to employee engagement and life satisfaction. It's not just a to-do list; it's creating that purpose for them."
Qumu developed their approach to OKRs to take full advantage of Lattice's platform to meet their needs as a growing company. In addition to biweekly status reports that keep track of everyone's OKRs, Qumu has rolled out inter-quarterly scoring, which means that employees update their OKRs every month to determine if they're on or off track.
At the end of every quarter, Qumu staff hold an all-hands meeting where they discuss the defined company-level OKRs for a specific quarter, as well as a slideshow that summarizes the previous quarter's OKR outcomes as shown through Lattice. Following this, Qumu conducts a complete refresh of OKRs to keep them current and aligned to its goals.
Through these processes, Zach says that Qumu uses OKRs like a child uses bumpers at the bowling alley. When the ball is headed towards the gutter, the OKR allows employees to see that a task is off-track and adjust accordingly to avoid a negative outcome. By checking their OKRs every month, a project that may have been headed towards the gutter can curve back towards the pins.
"I like that metaphor because it's exactly what OKRs do for a company," Zach says. "They're the gutter guards in that analogy. If something is too far to the right, we don't let it go over the rail. We course-correct back and try to finish what we started."
Lattice's impact on Qumu extends beyond OKRs themselves, particularly in the way employees have adopted Lattice's Feedback and 1:1 features. Per the Hackman and Oldham Job Characteristics Model, consistent and honest feedback helps employees get a clear picture of their performance and how they can improve. By utilizing the Lattice 1:1 tool, Qumu employees can structure their meetings with their managers to get that actionable feedback and make sure they don't miss anything important, improving efficiency. And Lattice Praise allows co-workers to see and celebrate their peers’ successes, making for a more inclusive, satisfying work experience.
Also, manager-employee communications are flourishing with the adoption of Lattice Updates. During hectic weeks, Zach often relies on Updates to communicate his plan of action to his manager and any roadblocks he may face. At the end of every Update is the question, "How are you feeling this week?" And while it may seem simple at first glance, that little nudge gives employees an easy way to let their manager know how they're doing. This feature can help communicate setbacks and hardships, as well as celebrate successes.
These features help Qumu maintain alignment on essential projects, even when co-workers involved are all across the globe. Zach views Lattice as the company's virtual office, which for him, is a centralized base of operations that allows employees to focus on the tasks that matter most. He views 1:1's as visiting his manager's office virtually, viewing other department's OKRs as akin to talking to them casually in a physical office, and the Feedback function as a virtual equivalent of a short office-wide celebration.
As a whole, the strategic adoption of OKRs — bolstered by other features of the Lattice platform, like updates and 1:1s — has been an unbridled success for Qumu. As the year progresses, Qumu plans to roll out OKR functionality for all employees to ensure that the company maintains alignment on every level moving forward and fosters a robust virtual office environment.