On Transforming Performance


Kenneth Lewis headshot
Kenneth Lewis

Co-Founder at OKR International

Episode notes

In this episode of "Dreams With Deadlines," host Jenny Herald welcomes Kenneth Lewis, co-founder of OKR International, to explore the dynamic world of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in business. With over two decades of experience and a rich history of working with renowned companies like Colgate, Swift, and Bosch, Kenneth delves deep into the practicalities and philosophies of OKRs.

What you will learn

  • The Journey to OKRs: Kenneth shares his personal and professional journey, revealing how a background in sales, teaching, and organizational development led him to the world of OKRs. His story highlights the transformational potential of OKRs in aligning strategy with execution, focusing on goals, and fostering organizational transparency.
  • Integrating OKRs with Performance Management: The conversation delves into the nuances of combining OKRs with performance management systems. Kenneth outlines various approaches, such as the hybrid system where OKRs feed into performance assessments and the impact of this integration on employee engagement and organizational control.
  • Real-World Applications and Challenges: Drawing from his extensive experience, Kenneth offers vivid examples from companies like Colgate-Palmolive and discusses the practical challenges and solutions in implementing OKRs. He emphasizes the importance of adapting OKRs to the organization's culture and goals, rather than strictly adhering to predefined frameworks.

Show notes

  • [00:00:06] Introduction to Kenneth Lewis and OKR International. Jenny Herald introduces Kenneth Lewis, highlighting his extensive experience in business and his role as the co-founder of OKR International, the first OKR consulting company in India and Asia.
  • [00:04:16] Kenneth Lewis's Origin Story and Discovery of OKRs. Kenneth shares his journey from being a sales professional and teacher to discovering OKRs, emphasizing his experiences in sales, teaching, and organizational culture that led him to this methodology.
  • [00:08:09] Fundamentals and Misconceptions of OKRs. Kenneth discusses the basic principles of OKRs, addressing common misunderstandings and returning to the core ideas behind the methodology, as initially envisioned by Andy Grove and John Doerr.
  • [00:13:37] OKRs in Relation to Budgets and Investments. Kenneth explains how OKRs interact with company budgets and investment strategies, using Colgate-Palmolive as a case study to illustrate how businesses can balance budget constraints with aspirational OKRs.
  • [00:48:00] Quick-Fire Questions for Kenneth Lewis:
    • Dream with a Deadline: Kenneth aspires to positively impact a million lives during his career and another million post-retirement. Additionally, he has a goal for one of his invested companies to reach $5 million in revenue by 2026.
    • When things start to go sideways in OKR implementations, what advice do you give to turn things around? He emphasizes viewing challenges as learning opportunities and advises not to be too hard on oneself, but to learn from experiences and move forward.
    • What do you believe is the role of the C-level, or the CEO even, in the OKR program? Kenneth believes that C-level executives should have a mix of conviction and hope in the OKR program, actively participate in it, and understand that OKRs are a means to a broader organizational goal, not the end in themselves.
    • What is the single most impactful lesson or insight you've gained from your experience with OKRs and performance management within an organization? He finds that OKRs are fundamentally simple and effective for setting and achieving goals. Their simplicity and holistic approach make them a powerful tool for organizational development.
    • Book That Shaped His Thinking: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand has significantly influenced him, teaching him about human potential, the importance of reason, and aiming beyond perceived limitations.

Relevant links

About our guest:

Kenneth Lewis headshot
Kenneth Lewis


Kenneth's purpose is to be that eternal flame that ignites passion and performance in others. He is the founder of Atlas Learning, an investor and advisor at Purposetrade, Grassroute, and Docmode, and a consultant with multiple firms. He's also the Co-founder of OKR International, the world’s largest OKR training, coaching and consulting company.