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How LinkedIn Uses OKRs – A Case Study

Here is an interesting case study for thought leaders - How LinkedIn uses OKRs to stand out in the frame and how it crossed the $20 million mark in a short span.
Sourabh Jha

Sourabh Jha

How LinkedIn uses OKRs

LinkedIn uses OKRs for its purposeful mission by linking them to the company’s objectives in a unified direction.

The Co-founder and CEO of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman gave Jeff Weiner, the Executive Chairman, complete control over LinkedIn. 

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Weiner’s vision led LinkedIn to a staggering IPO that made headlines and heads turn! He credits his success to the implementation of the OKR framework

OKR framework

The LinkedIn OKR framework is based on:

  • Setting up measurable objectives and key results that can be reviewed weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
  • Starting with just 3 to 5 OKRs at a time.
  • OKRs should be a mixture of stretched and achievable objectives.
  • Regular check-ins to track the progress and implement corrective actions.

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How LinkedIn Uses OKR?

Weiner believed that vision is a “company’s true north.” The vision needs to be inspiring and aspirational. LinkedIn wanted to create an economic opportunity for its 3.3 billion workforce.

measurable OKR

1 Measurable

The vision should be the guiding force behind the company and its employee’s objectives. The objectives are aligned in a way that the employees own it and work towards the same.

They should be measurable and comply with the long-term goals of the company. Key results are enablers that measure progress by translating the ideas into actions.

2 Set 3 to 5 OKRs

Weiner advised his team to set 3 to 5 OKRs in a quarter. LinkedIn aimed at setting up 3 to 5 OKRs.Managers were given the freedom to set their own OKRs. These OKRs should be in line with the company mission and should have a deadline.

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3 Management Follow OKR

Weiner told his management team to ensure strict compliance with the OKR framework which helped him to bring a change in the management process.

According to Weiner, “[OKRs are] something you want to accomplish over a specific period that leans toward a stretch goal rather than a stated plan. It’s something where you want to create greater urgency, greater mindshare.”

In this context, they inspire the employees to follow them and work towards a common goal.

As per a report by First Round Review, he even advocated that as people climb up the management ladder, they should take OKRs as a rule of thumb.

vision mission growth

4 A mix of ‘Moonshot’ and Achievable Goals

LinkedIn management believed that OKRs are not meant for day-to-day business. They should empower the team to achieve higher goals. 

Weiner advocated that the OKRs should be a mix of ‘moonshot’ objectives and achievable objectives. 

If all objectives are achievable, they lose their purpose. On the flip side, if all objectives are stretched, there is a possibility of the employees getting demotivated.

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5 Regular Check-ins

Weiner designed a unique system of meetings for tracking individual and team OKRs. He dedicated two hours solely for his managers during a week. The objective of the meeting is to provide clarity on the scope and purpose of the managers at the macro level.

He also proposed weekly meetings to discuss the progress of OKRs. Weiner also ensured that employee OKRs were aligned to company objectives. 

Weiner encouraged the managers to discuss their professional and personal success during the weekly meetings.

Apart from these meetings, the management team meets once every six weeks for a day. They also have half-yearly meetings with specific agendas of discussion. The managers ensured that the employees check in regularly to update on their goals. This helped Weiner to coach his team and focus on the strategy. 

weiner OKR framework

He professed that a successful company should be able to think homogeneously and work towards a unified objective. He built strategies that help in achieving these objectives by inculcating a learning culture and promoting innovation. Successful check-ins lead to successful OKR implementations.

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The Ideologies that Supported the OKR framework at LinkedIn

To assert the OKR framework, Weiner coined the term ‘Wind in the Sail’. Weiner believed that most of the organizations propelled until the wind was favorable. They didn’t prepare their ship when the wind would turn. 

His ideology was the baseline for the hiring and management process at LinkedIn. This was the main reason for setting a stretched OKR and devising strategies to achieve it. 

The LinkedIN Success Story

LinkedIn is also inclined towards a compassionate approach rather than being empathetic. The company believes that = empathetic, people don’t think of a solution rather compassionate people are solution oriented and action takers.  

Conclusion

As per a report in First Round Review, OKRs helped LinkedIn propel to a $20 billion company. LinkedIn leveraged the OKR framework in an effective manner to reach its current position. It serves as a leading example for devising an adjustable and scalable OKR framework.

Frequent meetings encouraged all employees to check in and report their progress. It was also a helping hand for the employees losing track of their goals.

The meetings transformed the managers into effective coaches facilitating learning and development.

Have you started using OKRs to achieve your organization goals? If not it is the right time to start and Peoplebox will help you in. Click on the link to get more information on it.

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