Driving A Well Oiled Machine

Issue 60

Leading North East management business consultancy AuxinOKR is bucking a national trend by expanding during the pandemic. Its MD Peter Kerr explains how his firm is helping corporates survive and grow in this difficult climate.

How are you expanding when many other business consultancies are slimming down?

There are two main reasons for our expansion. We are growing our existing client accounts so we need great coaches to continue to deliver value to our customers. And, we’re thinking long-term. OKRs are crossing the chasm. They are becoming mainstream. We are receiving enquiries from businesses across all sectors and of all sizes. Now is the time to bring highly talented coaches to help us grow the business and service this demand.

How did AuxinOKR start and what’s the grand plan?

The Auxin brand pre-dates AuxinOKR. It was created by my fellow director David Anderson. The current management team all worked together on a wide range of business coaching projects. We were invited to pitch for an OKR coaching project which brought the concept of objectives and key results to our attention. We tried it for ourselves and we were hooked. We reviewed the market and saw a gap for a specialist OKR coaching firm in the UK. That was three years ago and we’ve been on an amazing journey ever since that taken us all over the world and in the board rooms of several bluechip companies.

What are you offering that others aren’t?

We don’t look at it that way. We offer what our clients need. Every business is unique, so we tailor how to implement OKRs to suit the business. This means ensuring the foundations are right to give OKRs the best chance of working. The only big difference we have noticed is that we are in for the long haul while other coaches just set the scene and then let the business themselves take care of the implementation.

Can you briefly explain what OKRs are?

OKRs is a goal-setting framework just like SMART and lots of others. OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. The objective is an aspiration. It is a place you want your business to be in the future. The key results are quantitative. The KRs are the metrics we will use to measure our progress towards achieving the goal. The difference between SMART goals and OKRs is that SMART goals help you manage day to day tasks whilst OKRs are the big things the company is trying to achieve. OKRs are closely aligned with innovation and finding new ways to do achieve very ambitious outcomes.

How can OKRs help a business during an economic downturn?

To answer that I need to draw on the OKR superpowers referred to by John Doerr the author of Measure What Matters. OKRs give businesses focus. When trading conditions are challenging it’s important to understand what needs to be now, next and later. Ensuring everyone is aligned to what the business is trying to achieve leads to belief and accountability. When combined they create a workforce that is committed to working to help the organisation to achieve its goals. Having the right information to make an informed decision is vital. We need to closely track the data that is available to us as business leaders. Finally, when faced with business problems we have never faced before we need to stretch ourselves. Teams need to ambitious and innovative.

What sort of businesses are you helping?

A wide range of businesses ranging from rapidly scaling fintech start-ups backed by the London Stock Exchange, to 184-year-old blue-chip insurance companies. We also work with not for profits and many tech companies who have been early adopters of the OKR framework due to OKRs strong ties to Silicon Valley.

What does the next 12 months look like for AuxinOKR?

Our own OKR for this year was to become ‘a welloiled machine’. We are making great progress on this and hiring new talent will allow us to increase the number of businesses we can help. I guess the focus for next year will be fuelling the well-oiled machine!

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