Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Resilience and Results: 2020 Imperatives

Companies like Comcast, Microsoft and CIsco that had an OKR process and platform before the crisis were able to quickly adjust strategic priorities, align teams and shift efforts.

Today every chief executive is focused on two 2020 imperatives: Resilience and results. While executives have little control over demand resilience, they have direct control over operational resilience and results focus. In Resilience Thinking, scientists Brian Walker and David Salt describe resilience as “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure.” The enterprise test is whether it can shift where work is done and still drive its best potential results despite employee diaspora and turmoil.

To adapt and respond to new realities, organizations need three fundamental capabilities:

1. The company needs to shift strategic priorities quarterly and get everyone re-aligned.

2. People need a source of truth on current strategic priorities for their organization, business function and group.

3. Team members need to work cohesively yet independently to be productive without proximity.

Organizations will need to exercise these capabilities long after Spring 2020, so many are adopting platform-enabled Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to close these resilience gaps and optimize business outcomes.


OKRs are a technique for aligning objectives, defining desired results and measuring progress in shorter, focused intervals. Made popular by startups, large enterprises have adopted them to respond to dynamic markets, close strategy alignment gaps and engage more of their organization in strategy execution. An OKR platform provides enterprise-wide transparency on what each team is trying to achieve and its progress to plan, automates management reporting like QBRs and operating reviews and connects company outcomes with team output.

Organizations like Comcast, Microsoft, Cisco, Zuora, GHX and others that had an OKR process and platform before the crisis were able to quickly adjust strategic priorities, align teams and shift efforts in March 2020. Moreover, they can see where re-alignment breaks down and drive focus faster. Fortuitous at crisis onset, it will also help them navigate through and out of it. Tony Werner, president of Comcast Technology Products & Experience, says his process and platform “have helped amplify and accelerate results.”

The core tenets of a good OKR practice include:

• Quarterly iteration on strategic priorities. Quarterly objectives and key results replace annual strategic plans that quickly get stale. Aligning and re-aligning on near-term results drives higher focus, fosters a fast-learning organization and improves overall outcomes.

• Explicit rather than implied alignment. The OKR process makes alignment an overt step in a company’s operating model. OKRs are localized to each team, not just leadership teams (typically less than 2 percent of your workforce) so more of the organization’s capacity is leveraged against its strategy. Broad alignment is the source of startups’ speed but is often the Achilles’ heel of large enterprises.

• Best possible results. The process helps teams define, align and organize to achieve their best possible results. It rallies people to greatness rather than mediocrity. By spending three hours aligning on objectives and key results at the beginning of the quarter, people can focus on what matters for the 500 hours they spend in the quarter.

• Speed as a competitive advantage. OKRs focus effort on outcomes that matter most in the next 90 days, and platforms provide a continuous picture of the gap to plan. That visibility helps teams identify and resolve risks earlier in the quarter.

• Teams are the engine of value creation. OKRs enable functional and cross-functional teams to clarify what they want to achieve and how success is measured. Working groups, pods and squads can be more self-directed, aligned and accountable.

To drive productivity without proximity, employees need the ability to make progress and good decisions independently. Clarity on intended outcomes and transparency on commitments, actions and decisions helps interdependent colleagues be effective asynchronously. Automating and accelerating management reporting is imperative now as well because leaders need self-service data in the moment—and management-by-meeting has become exhausting. The future of work is here, and it requires the ability to work with autonomy, get information and feedback digitally and circulate business facts in more automated ways.


Operating drag that wasn’t visible in person or in growth climates will now be magnified. While the external situation is changing very quickly, you may find that your internal response isn’t changing fast enough. To drive your best results in difficult conditions, you’ll need to accelerate your operational response, iterate frequently on strategic priorities and mobilize everyone faster.

Fortunately, these can be accelerated and automated with proven, purpose-built OKR solutions. Zuora’s CEO Tien Tzou says, “A strong platform partner that provides expert coaching can help you unify the organization on OKRs and implement a platform in a few weeks.” Turn on the digital capacity to align, measure and optimize outcomes now—just in time to rally on the company’s best possible results for the second half of 2020.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.