On Building a Champion Community


Aaron Velek headshot
Aaron Velek

Managing Consultant (VP) - Americas at Quantive

Episode notes

In this episode of "Dreams With Deadlines," Jenny Herald sits down with Aaron Velek, Managing Consultant at Quantive, to delve deep into the world of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

What you will learn

  • The Role of OKR Champions: Aaron Velek provides a comprehensive view of what it means to be an OKR champion, emphasizing the importance of being a subject matter expert, a coach to leaders and teams, and a change agent in organizations. He shares insights into the qualities and skills essential for selecting OKR champions, such as problem-solving abilities, strategic thinking, and effective communication across organizational levels.
  • Fostering a Community of OKR Champions: The conversation explores strategies for building and sustaining a community of OKR champions. Velek stresses the importance of regular training, meetings, and effective communication channels to ensure a unified understanding and approach to OKRs. He shares practical tips on organizing monthly meetups, developing comprehensive training modules, and using newsletters and technology to keep champions engaged and informed.
  • Challenges and Success Stories in OKR Implementation: Velek shares real-world examples and success stories, particularly from his experience at SVB. He discusses how integrating OKRs into existing processes can lead to significant improvements and highlights the role of leadership and steering committees in navigating challenges and steering the OKR program towards success.

Show notes

  • [00:00:00] Introduction. Jenny Herald introduces Aaron Velek and expresses excitement about having a colleague on the show. This sets the stage for the episode focused on OKRs.
  • [00:00:09] Defining the Role of an OKR Champion. Discussion about what an OKR champion is, including their responsibilities and the importance of being a subject matter expert and a coach in the organization.
  • [00:00:57] Qualities and Criteria for Selecting OKR Champions. Aaron Velek shares insights on the key qualities and criteria for selecting effective OKR champions, highlighting strategic mindset, organization skills, and the ability to communicate effectively.
  • [00:01:37] Backgrounds and Experiences Ideal for OKR Champions. Exploration of the backgrounds and experiences that make someone an ideal candidate for an OKR champion, including roles like chief of staff and project management.
  • [00:03:01] The Role of OKR Champions in Organizations. Discussion about the benefits of having in-house OKR champions compared to external OKR coaches, focusing on knowledge, experience, and embedding OKRs into the organization's rhythm.
  • [00:03:48] Success Stories of OKR Implementation. Aaron shares success stories from his experience, highlighting the impact of effective OKR implementation and the role of champions in change management.
  • [00:04:44] Responsibilities and Challenges for OKR Champions. Jenny and Aaron cover the key responsibilities of OKR champions, including leading workshops, facilitating events, and providing personalized coaching.
  • [00:11:00] Building a Community of OKR Champions. Aaron discusses strategies for fostering a community of OKR champions, including training, frequent meetings, and asynchronous communication tools like Slack or Teams.
  • [00:14:42] The Importance of Continuous Training and Learning. Detailed exploration of the training process for OKR champions, including fundamental, advanced, and coaching aspects, and the importance of continuous learning.
  • [00:17:38] Utilizing Newsletters and Technology in OKR Programs. Discussion on the use of newsletters and technology to keep people engaged in the OKR program, and how these tools support the work of OKR champions.
  • [00:23:10] Measuring the Success of an OKR Program. Aaron talks about how to measure the success of an OKR program, including engagement and adoption metrics, and the use of a maturity index.
  • [00:24:17] The Role of the Steering Committee. A look into the role and assembly of the steering committee in guiding and supporting the OKR program, including facing obstacles and decision-making.
  • [00:26:27] Quick-Fire Questions for Aaron Velek:
    • What is your dream with a deadline? Aaron mentions his commitment to continuous learning without a specific deadline, making it an ongoing journey. On a personal note, he dreams of seeing his children grow up successfully in a good world, which is a constant goal for him.
    • What strong opinions do you have about how OKRs should or should not be used? Aaron emphasizes the importance of focusing on outcomes rather than tasks or projects when using OKRs. He advises keeping the conversation around outcomes and the 'why' of OKRs to avoid turning them into mere task trackers.
    • For an OKR champion lead about to start out, what would you suggest should be the first thing they do? Aaron recommends that new OKR champions should seek out and speak with experienced champions to understand their journey and focus areas for long-term development.
    • What's the value of bringing someone external to help the OKR champions internally with their OKR program? Aaron highlights the value of external OKR coaches, noting that many companies lack dedicated internal resources with extensive experience in launching OKR programs. He suggests that external coaches can help launch or get programs back on track, bringing in-depth experience and knowledge.
    • Book That Shaped Your Thinking:  Aaron cites "Extreme Ownership" by Jocko Willink as influential in shaping his mindset. He appreciates the book's focus on prioritizing critical tasks and not becoming overwhelmed, which has guided his approach to project and program management, as well as OKRs.

Relevant links

About our guest:

Aaron Velek headshot
Aaron Velek

Managing Consultant (VP) - Americas

Aaron Velek, Managing Consultant at Quantive, is an expert in OKR methodology with a focus on strategic planning and change management. Known for his work at SVB, he specializes in coaching and developing OKR champions in various organizations.