On Exploring Business Agility and OKRs in Private Equity


Yuval Yeret headshot
Yuval Yeret

Enterprise Agility Consultant at AgileSparks North America

Episode notes

In this episode of Dreams with Deadlines, Jenny Herald talks with agile expert Yuval Yeret about the connection between business agility and OKRs, specifically in the context of private equity.

They discuss the role of OKRs in aligning the goals of a portfolio company and how they can be used to facilitate cross-functional collaboration and focus on outcomes. They also discuss the importance of going beyond the surface level of frameworks like OKRs and Scrum to truly understand and utilize their principles, as well as the dangers of getting caught up in the hype of the latest buzzwords and trends.

What you will learn

  • The connection between business agility and OKRs in private equity
  • The role of OKRs in alignment and focus within an organization
  • The principles shared by various frameworks such as OKRs, Scrum, and SAFe
  • The importance of understanding and implementing frameworks effectively
  • The benefits of dynamic team organization and shuffling based on OKRs
  • The value of discussing outcomes rather than specifying outputs and having conversations about OKRs
  • The dangers of chasing the next shiny thing without fully understanding and implementing it
  • The connection between agile principles and OKR success
  • The role of transparency, collaboration, and psychological safety in creating a successful environment for progress and continuous improvement
  • The challenges and opportunities in improving work environments and creating meaningful progress in organizations.

Show notes

  • [03:04] Yuval walks us through his background in IT and product development and begins using agile practices in his work. After moving to the US in 2015, he started consulting and coaching different types of organizations and began incorporating OKRs into his work with agile processes and helping organizations improve their use of OKRs.
  • [04:33] Yuval walks us through his experience in private equity
    • The role of OKRs and business agility in private equity
    • The investment hypothesis
    • How to apply agility to the process of finding the right way to reshape your go-to-market strategy
  • [09:03] Yuval dives deep on when OKRs are not applicable
  • [11:03] Yuval shares his insights and examples of best applications of OKRs
    • OKRs are an alignment framework
  • [12:43] A look at how Prezi, a presentation software, and their OKR-friendly way of managing the work in their organization
  • [14:47] A look at the different frameworks (OKR, Scrum, SAFe)
  • [16:03] The pitfalls of not getting the value or understanding the different frameworks
  • [19:41] High-level overview of Ron Jeffries and Scrum
  • [20:35] What makes Scrum great?
    • A relatively simple and lightweight framework that's really laser-focused on achieving empiricism
    • The structure of Scrum and how it can be used to develop the business
    • How to create a rhythm of making progress in an environmental uncertainty with Scrum
  • [28:06] Scrum became popular and spread quickly
    • Many people using Scrum did not fully understand the principles and applied it with traditional project management approaches
    • These people saw Scrum as a template rather than a continuous improvement process
    • This led to the development of "Scrum Theater" or "Zombie Scrum" where people were just going through the motions of Scrum without fully understanding and implementing its principles
    • When an approach becomes too popular, the knowledge about it becomes thinned out and there are more people who are just following it because it is popular, leading to more haters of the approach
  • [33:31] Yuval discusses how OKRs should be used for goal alignment and focus on outcomes, in conjunction with evidence-based management. He stresses the importance of empiricism and empowering teams to achieve outcomes.
  • [37:06] Yuval is discussing the concept of empowerment in agile processes and how it leads to better solutions and motivated employees. He emphasizes the importance of providing teams with the necessary knowledge and expertise and allowing them the autonomy to come up with and execute experiments within certain constraints. He also discusses the role of frequent feedback and access to leadership in empowering teams.
  • [42:06] Jenny and Yuval are discussing how empowering teams to achieve a specific goal can lead to innovative solutions and improved business performance.
    • The importance of empowering teams to achieve goals and the motivation and effectiveness of empowered teams
    • The role of constraints in providing direction for teams while still allowing for flexibility and creativity
    • The value of fast feedback loops and cross-functional collaboration in achieving outcomes
    • The dangers of micromanaging and a lack of safety in communication
    • The concept of "scheduled chicken" in which multiple groups work towards a deadline without being transparent about issues or challenges.
    • The use of OKRs to align organizations around goals and focus on outcomes
    • The benefits of using empiricism and focusing on outcomes rather than activities
    • The concept of evidence-based management, which involves continuously evaluating progress and adjusting course as needed
  • [46:25] Quick Fire Questions for Yuval:
    • What’s your Dream with a Deadline?
    • Yuval's goal is to help organizations create environments that allow people to have an impact on work processes and to provide more case studies on this topic in the next few years.
    • Can you share an example of a meaty strategy execution challenge, and how did they overcome it?

Relevant links

About our guest:

Yuval Yeret headshot
Yuval Yeret

Enterprise Agility Consultant

Yuval Yeret is an expert on agile methodologies and OKRs, with experience in coaching and consulting a variety of organizations on their agility journey. With a background in IT and product development, he has helped businesses improve value and profitability through private equity deals and digital transformations.

Additional resources