Company goals and key metrics usually take form as a quarterly or annual presentation by upper management. At Miro, things are a little different.
Teams use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a reference point in day-to-day execution, keeping everyone across the company aligned and effective.
If you aren’t familiar, Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard that is now used by 95% of the Fortune 500. As business has increasingly moved online, especially over the past year, Miro has witnessed massive growth because of its ability to provide a shared ideation space for distributed teams. The company currently stands at more than 500 people located in 7 hubs around the world, with sights set on doubling headcount next year. It’s more important than ever to have an anchor to keep everyone on the same page.
We sat down with Melissa Halim, Enterprise Product Marketing Lead, who broke down the processes that help Miro run across the organization, from product to enterprise to partnerships. With this kind of complex team structure, staying coordinated depends on the entire company’s commitment to its goals.
In this issue you’ll learn more about:
- How to use OKRs as a tool for keeping the company alignment
- Async ways to keep your team updated on product developments
- Tips for developing your own effective communications policies
💰 OKRs for fun and profit
It’s clear that processes and coordination need to be laid out for everyone to stay on track and aligned. So, how does Miro achieve this outcome to great effect?
"The People team drives that initiative for all the new employees that come on board. This lays down the philosophy and process for our OKR process where we roll it out company-wide then decompose that into team-level initiatives. In some companies this might be a “set it and forget it process” but at Miro it’s the main reference point for guiding our work on an everyday basis. We’re continually refining this process with each quarter that passes"
As in other companies, the OKRs are set annually and quarterly at the management levels, but at Miro, OKRs are then broken down into the team responsibilities for each division and team, and everyone is required to have regular reports on their progress.
Some other interesting points on the process:
- The BizOps team has a lead in charge of managing the OKRs as their core responsibility. They work with company leadership to identify priorities and parse how their team contributes to the objectives.
- A Miro board serves as the central documentation hub for OKRs, split out by function.
- In the two weeks prior to the end of each quarter, teams reflect on previous OKRs and prepare for the next quarter.
- In the preparation period, teams have the opportunity to take part in online discussions about the next quarter’s goals.
- Criteria for meeting the goals and scoring each team’s progress are determined during the quarterly discussions.
- Each team has alignment meetings to ensure everyone is on board with the OKRs.
- Every month, each team scores themselves on each of their OKRs on a scale of 0-1 based on the work they did during that month. The method of scoring is important to note — 0.3 doesn't mean that the KR is 30% complete. It's really a mindset shift for us as teams — we're measuring progress based on where we believe we'll be at the end of the quarter. In this way, it becomes outcome-oriented rather than just about the tactics.
- During the all-hands briefing, updates and progress on relevant OKRs are broadcasted to others.
🎮 Communicating Product Updates
On a monthly basis, the product marketing team provides an update for the Go-to-market (GTM) teams regarding the features that were shipped that month, as well as upcoming features in their domain. This is critical since everyone should ultimately know about important product changes that are being shipped.
On top of this, the product marketing team puts together the monthly update all asynchronously, across a wide range of time zones.
To make the presentation effective, Melissa’s team uses the following techniques:
- The presentation is designed kind of like a newscast, with a segment for each subteam within product marketing.
- On the day of the monthly update, roles for each person are clearly defined: Someone for answering chat questions, someone for monitoring questions on the Miro board, someone responsible for music and breakout rooms, etc.
- Breakout rooms are provided for live Q&A sessions and interactive activities.
- The team comes up with creative and fun activities, often used as icebreakers. For example, they used a bingo-style quiz where the team needed to choose the “Real or Fake” feature from a list. To mark the real ones that were released vs. the fake ones that are made up teams would simply change the sticky note color to red. Not only is it fun, but it motivates people to engage with the presentation. It also gives the PMM and PM teams a way to quickly gauge feature retention for future training.
🚀 Some Parting Advice
In our discussions of how teams communicate, it became clear that Miro uses similar tools as other distributed organizations (e.g. Slack, Loom), and like others, there may be lots of different channels for communication. Melissa mentioned that it’s important to develop your own personal way of managing communications and creating visibility into work, particularly for leadership and management. Everyone has different preferences.
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