On Uncertainty, Randomness, and How OKRs are Networks


Chris Butler headshot
Chris Butler

Global Head of Product Operations at Cognizant

Episode notes

What does it mean to say that OKRs are networks? Why should you think of them as networks and not hierarchies?

In this episode, host Jenny Herald speaks with Chris Butler, global head of operations of Cognizant. He also wrote a post, “OKRs are networks, not hierarchies” that explains his thoughts on the subject of why OKRs are networks, and why he doesn’t care for hierarchies.

Listen in to learn more about OKR networks, randomness and biases, and the Trojan horse of strategy. Chris discusses introducing more variance into work, how to think about the way that people are using products, and the concept of communal computing. 

“If you can in some way help everybody be more educated, maybe we can get somewhere better.” — Chris [00:06:48]

Show notes

  • [00:01:06] Introducing Chris and what his role is within his organization
  • [00:05:53] Using randomness to break out of bias
  • [00:09:49] Introducing more variance into the work
  • [00:14:20] Considering product mindset
  • [00:18:01] Communal computing
  • [00:20:29] The need to embrace uncertainty in product management
  • [00:23:16] What it means to say that OKRs are networked
  • [00:26:38] How OKRs are a Trojan horse for strategy
  • [00:32:42] Having the understanding and information to make good decisions for the overall company
  • [00:35:46] The missing pieces between efficiency and growth
  • [00:38:01] The speed at which the production line is changing
  • [00:39:09] The uncertainty of OKRs 
  • [00:41:19] The importance of doing retros
  • [00:45:29] OKR cultures
  • [00:47:33] Quick-fire questions

Relevant links

About our guest:

Chris Butler headshot
Chris Butler

Global Head of Product Operations

Chris Butler is a product manager, writer, and speaker. He facilitates critical decision making for teams that build new and innovative products. Chris focuses on bias, uncertainty, and randomization to help build more robust and resilient teams.

Additional resources