Applying OKRs in SAFe – New Advanced Topic Article

Advanced Topics News

Over the last few years, many enterprises have embraced establishing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to create aspirational goals that drive higher organizational performance. SAFe has always recognized the benefits of an objective-driven approach and achieves this starting with Strategic Themes —structured in OKR format — as a means to create strategic alignment and guide PI Objectives.

But OKRs are a pretty comprehensive tool, and the question of how and where to further apply OKRs within SAFe comes up fairly frequently. To this end, we are excited to announce a new Advanced Topic Article that describes three additional and specific use cases for Applying OKRs in SAFe.

  1. Enhancing strategic alignment across a SAFe Portfolio by creating Value Stream and ART OKRs
  2. Using OKRs to define business outcomes for Epics, Lean Business Cases, and MVPs
  3. Defining OKRs to set improvement goals for the SAFe transformation

The article also contains practical guidance on writing well-formed outcome-based objectives, with measurable key results that apply to each scenario. The use of OKRs to help establish solution Key Performance Indictors (KPIs) is also described.

Figure 3. Potential applications of OKRs in SAFe
Figure 3. Potential applications of OKRs in SAFe

While this article describes opportunities to apply OKRs within SAFe, their usage remains optional, apart from the strong recommendation to use them to describe portfolio Strategic Themes. If a decision is taken to apply OKRs, these must be applied within an environment conducive to their success. The article concludes with a special caveat where OKRs do not work in SAFe as well as one might anticipate.

The benefits of OKRs will only be realized where planning and delivery are incremental, ensuring the ability to respond to the continuous feedback that OKRs provide. Enterprises that still employ traditional development methods, with an upfront commitment to large batches of work, will often struggle to reap the benefits of OKRs.

We look forward to hearing your feedback and how you have used OKRs successfully within your SAFe Enterprise.

Stay SAFe

— Andrew

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Andrew Sales

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