What is the best way to justify experiments and innovations that may not necessarily link to the company's or org's OKRs?

Answer: Demonstrate how your project aligns with the company/product strategy. If it doesn't, advocate a new strategy. Otherwise, recognize your project is off strategy and move on to something else.

OKRs are a by-product of a company or product strategy, indicating the progress a company seeks in a given timeframe. If your project doesn’t fit into the OKRs, the chances are high that your project is off strategy. 

Your options:

  • Demonstrate how your idea links to the company or product strategy.

  • Advocate a new strategy, or

  • Move on to your next idea.

I outline an example below.

Strategy + Idea + Leadership = Results

In 1999, I ran product at The Learning Company.  Greg Long, who worked for me, came to me one day, looking for help as he struggled to build support to sign a long-term exclusive with Pokemon.

We talked for a bit, then I shared the “S + I + L = Results” model to help diagnose his problem. I explained to Greg that when you fail to deliver results, it's often because the organization doesn't see value in the Strategy, the Idea, or the extent to which you provide compelling Leadership.

We realized that while The Learning Company valued learning products like Reader Rabbit, TLC was wary of some brands where the learning value wasn't clear. Greg failed on three fronts: He wasn’t clear about his strategy, he didn’t have an idea that mapped to this strategy, and, as a leader, he failed to articulate a compelling vision of the future.

Later, Greg advocated a new strategy and idea.

The #1 Selling Kids Software in 2000: Pokeroms

This is how Greg eventually outlined the S + I + L = Results model:

Strategy

Sign big brands that have some learning value to create a new category of “learning games.”

Idea

Sign Pokemon, then create a line of Pokeroms-- ten card-sized CD-ROMs that kids can collect and trade.

Leadership

Greg built internal enthusiasm for “good for you” brands that he married with unique product concepts to form a line of “Learning Games.”

The result

Greg signed the Pokemon brand and then executed a series of “Pokeroms,” each featuring a different character.  These Pokeroms were the top-selling educational software in 2000.

Here’s the Pikachu disk:

Conclusion

If you can't tie your project to the high-level company or product strategy, advocate a new strategy. Or, if you’re making no headway with your idea, acknowledge that your idea is off strategy and move on to the next idea.

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Thanks,

Gib

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