Mindset Change – Learn from the Experts

Mindset change

Meet the panelists:

As a chartered Psychologist, Kim Atherton joined OVO Energy 5 years ago as Chief People Officer when the team were 50 strong. She oversaw rapid employee growth to 2,000 employees whilst taking the business to 20th in the Sunday Times Best Places to Work. She developed a software platform, Just3Things, to embed the principles of an emergent mindset and OKRs within OVO, which she now heads up as a stand alone business. 

Tom Lewis is an established senior leader with a proven track record of high-growth brands in FinTech/InsurTech. He has had many experiences with embedding OKRs both in many different environments, and is hoping to do the same in his current role with Admiral Financial Services. He can bring a real hands on view of the benefits and pitfalls of this methodology. 

Mike Horwath is an experienced Agile and Scrum practitioner who has worked on some of the largest transformation projects in the country including Lloyds Banking Group. He is currently working with RBS, leading the charge on embedding OKRs into the Enterprise Engineering department. Mike also runs a consultancy, 1OvMany, specialising in Organisational Design & OKR practice. 

Catherine Wallwork is the Head of Innovation Engagement & Mindset at Deloitte Ventures, a rapidly growing function in Deloitte which aims to co-create disruptive technologies which change the way that business is done. Catherine’s role involves leading mindset transformation and mobilising people around innovations that matter most – all underpinned by a deep understanding of human motivation. OKRs are one of the many tools she uses to embed this mindset change, both within the practice and outside. 

What is Mindset Change?

Have you ever wondered, “how do some companies manage to successfully transform the way they work to become more innovative, whilst making their employees happier?We put this question to an expert panel to discuss; drawing on experiences from Deloitte, Admiral Group, Go Compare, RBS and Lloyds Bank.

We jumped straight into the importance of mindset, and why this should be considered as an essential part of the transformation process. The panel present some practical exercises that you can do right now to assess mindset, and some tips on how to move away from a fixed mindset.  

How can I embed change?

One of the methodologies discussed as a tool to drive change is OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). We look at examples of OKRs done well, and common pitfalls to avoid. Our guests agree that the biggest challenge is driving change and buy-in from the top, and pivoting an organisation to track outcomes as the key focus, not outputs (such as project deliverables) to allow teams to innovate toward a better solution. This transformation in ways of working requires a mindset shift that needs careful thought and planning.

We end the podcast with four tips on things to do to get started with your transformation, and insightful guard rails to put in place to avoid the common obstacles that often lead to failed transformations.

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The New Landscape – Listen Now To The Podcast

Podcast Kim and Barry

J3T CEO and Co-Founder Kim Atherton, and bestselling author and business advisor Barry O’Reilly, recently jumped on Zoom to record a podcast, providing a review of the changing global environment following Covid19 and the new landscape that has emerged.

Whilst we are all familiar with the negative aspects of the global pandemic – including health and wellbeing, economic disruption and the lack of social interaction – there are positive outcomes arising from the new landscape that is bringing communities together, inspiring innovation in businesses, and uniting the world in their appreciation for all the front line key workers.

Kim and Barry discuss the social impact and the new, ingenious ways people are coming together virtually, whether it be video tea parties or making new friends on Zoom over a glass of whisky.

From a business perspective, they review the importance of having good leaders to provide clarity and a defined purpose for employees. This will enable employees to have focus and direction in order to get the results required. Examples such as the NHS building a brand new hospital in the Excel Centre London ‘which was operational less than 2 weeks after it’s conception’, and Brewdog creating hand sanitisers, demonstrates how agile and productive businesses can be when they understand the wider context and have a clear sense of direction.

Have a listen below as Kim and Barry review the positive changes Covid19 has inspired in communities and businesses, and how they are successfully navigating the new landscape.

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How to write OKRs

A pretty frequent query we have from clients is ‘How do I write effective Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)?’ Getting your head around the different elements can be tricky at first, and with such a huge range of guidance and styles out there, it can be hard to know whether you’re getting it right.

In this article, we’ll look at why writing effective OKRs is so important, how to do it (with a range of good and bad examples) and some common pitfalls to avoid. If you’re completely new to OKRs, it might be worth reading our What are OKRs? article first.

Why getting it right is so important

OKRs remain central to the management style and culture of companies such as Google, Spotify and LinkedIn and have been a crucial factor in their huge success. Their stories show us that when adopted and executed correctly, OKRs are a powerful way to boost productivity, foster collaboration and innovation and ultimately increase the rate a company can grow and disrupt.

But writing OKRs can be deceptively time-consuming. To be effective they need to be aligned, well-constructed and focused, and teams need to be trained and processes followed to make them consistent across the board. Because if your OKRs are confusing and uncoordinated, the people trying to execute them will find it hard to know what to get done, or how to do it. 

How to structure OKRsDefining the wider strategy first

OKRs sit under the strategy and they must connect to it. This is what creates the alignment which makes them so powerful. So, before you start work on writing OKRs, it’s essential the company’s strategy is defined.

As the image shows, this strategy consists of a 1-10 year vision for the business, covering different areas, for example, revenue, culture, product. The OKRs will then align to the relevant strategic pillar. 

Once you’ve defined your strategy and pillars make sure it remains visible and accessible to everyone.

Other questions to ask upfront

As well as defining your strategy, asking these questions upfront may provide some useful insight and inform your process:

  • Have OKRs been attempted before?
    We sometimes see companies start out adopting OKRs, fail (or feel like they’ve failed) and abandon them. If this has happened, it can be really valuable to have a conversation with a person involved in that attempt – find out how they managed OKRs, what went wrong, and use this to inform your implementation.
  • Is there any useful insight to hand?
    Some companies find it challenging to set their OKRs because they don’t have obvious sources of information available to base them on. For example, if they haven’t set targets before it, coming up with achievable metrics in their KRs can feel like a finger in the air. Often, it’s not being sure which areas of growth they should be concentrating on.  Things like KPIs, reports, or simply talking to the workforce may help you find some of these numbers and identify where the opportunities for growth are.

A closer look at Objectives, Key Results and Initiatives

🎯 Objectives (what we aspire to do)

An Objective is a short, aspirational statement of intent to change and improve something. It breaks down the wider vision or strategy into smaller chunks that are achievable in a timeframe.

Objectives should: Objectives should not:

Be inspiring
Be concise
Be timebound
Be memorable
Be impactful
Be aligned with the wider strategy

❌ Be easily achievable
❌ Be one-off activities or projects
❌ Include jargon
❌ Be never-ending

📊 Key Results (what success would look like)

Key Results or ‘KRs’ help you track and measure whether you’ve met your objectives. They are always outcomes defined by a number, for example, 30%, 30 points, or £30,000. Key Results don’t need to be written in inspiring language like Objectives, but they need to be specific and make the Objective tangible.

Key Results should: Key Results should not:

Be metrics
Be specific
Be quantifiable 
Be challenging
Be tangible

❌ Keep you in your comfort zone
❌ Maintain the status quo

🔬 Initiatives (what we can do to get us there)

If you know exactly how you’ll see progress in your Key Results, then think of Initiatives as large tasks. If things aren’t quite so clear, then it might help you to think of Initiatives as experiments – however small – to help achieve the KR. We’re really passionate about Initiatives because they often stimulate new ways of thinking about work.

Initiatives should: Initiatives should not:

Be positioned as hypotheses
Be considered experiments
Provide valuable learnings whether the experiment succeeds or fails
Be linked to a Key Result so that you can see what effect the Initiative had

❌ Be a to-do list
❌ Continue indefinitely
❌ A list of backlog items

OKR examples (done well and not so well)

Example 1: A personal OKR

Good Bad

✅ Get fit, so that I have more energy

❌ Lose weight

Key Results
✅ Resting heart rate of 40 BPM
✅ Lose 10 pounds in weight
✅ Sleep 8 hours a night

Key Results
❌ Eat more healthily
❌ Do more exercise
❌ Drink less alcohol

✅ Try the ‘Couch to 5K Plan’
✅ Read ‘Eat, Drink, Run’ 
✅ Try a vegan diet

❌ Go for runs a few times a week
❌ Don’t get takeaways
❌ Go to sleep earlier

Example 2: An online hotel booking website

Good Bad

Create a loyal tribe of delighted customers in 2020

❌ Always improve our customer service

Key Result
Achieve an average customer rating on the website of 4 stars by end Q1

Key Result
❌ Do some customer surveys to get a better average customer rating on the website

Launch a reward scheme for hotel owners

❌ Redesign our app

Example 3: A startup bank

Good Bad

✅ Create a cutting-edge app that works seamlessly across all devices

❌ Get 50% more app downloads

Key Result
✅ 10K app downloads in the next 6 months

Key Result
❌ A Webby award

✅ Carry out competitor research to understand the latest trends

❌ Daily Scrum meetings

Things to avoid when writing OKRs

  • Don’t create a laundry list of tasks to be done
    OKRs drive change because they are linked to the wider strategy and are measurable. This means they will always challenge the status quo and success can be monitored. A list of tasks, on the other hand, inevitably leads to a series of outputs (rather than an outcome) which may or may not lead to growth. Either way, it won’t be easy to tell as they aren’t measurable.
  • Don’t make your OKRs overly ambitious
    OKRs should be inspiring, but realistically achievable in the timeframe. For example, a new brand of sunglasses setting out to: ‘achieve £500K sales in Q1’ is unlikely to be achieved. (However, achieving it by Q3 could be a great aspirational OKR.)
  • Don’t make your OKRs too complicated
    OKRs should be written in plain English, be concise and jargon-free. This reduces the risk of ambiguity and means they can be understood by anyone in the organisation.
  • Don’t confuse Initiatives and Key Results
    Key Results measure an outcome. Initiatives are experiments that help you achieve the KR, or the ‘work being done on the ground’. It sounds simple, but when an Initiative includes a number – which they often do – for example: ‘Send out 12 customer surveys’, against the KR of: ‘Achieve NPS score of 8’, the Initiative can sometimes find themselves wrongly categorised as Key Results.
  • Don’t confuse OKRs and KPIs
    KPIs are metrics used to monitor something. So they represent only the KR part of an OKR. Another key difference is that an OKR should be used for changes that you want to happen, whereas a KPI is used to monitor how things actually are in a continuous way. E.g. Net Promoter Score is a KPI as it’s just something that’s measured. An OKR might be to improve customer satisfaction and the KR for it might measure a change in it.

Things to aim for when writing OKRs

  • Do separate aspirational and committed OKRs
    OKRs marked as committed should be aimed at around 100% success within the timeframe. If it’s marked as aspirational it should be aimed at around 70%. This clarifies how much you’re likely to achieve and removes ambiguity around progress. If they’re labelled incorrectly, the OKR may not be prioritised, or morale could be affected if it is not achieved.
  • Do make sure you include a way of measuring your Key Results
    Being able to track your progress, and measure your success in meeting the objective is essential. That’s why KRs should include a numerical measure.
  • Do aim for quality over quantity
    You don’t have to create 50 new objectives every quarter. It’s better to take some time to work out which areas you want to innovate and drive change and focus on them. On top of the volume of OKRs, only the essential people involved should have to check-in, own, contribute and mark progress, although all should be able to view them.

Final thoughts

Spending a bit of time upfront understanding how to write OKRs, (and making sure everyone else responsible for writing them does too) means your OKRs are far more likely to succeed. Make sure your strategy and planning is in place first, and start small – perhaps with just the Senior Leadership Team to see how it goes. Then you can learn from the experience before rolling it out more widely.

Wherever you start, be sure to understand the context properly, set the stage for everyone involved and don’t be afraid to refine as you go. 



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What are OKRs?

OKRs, Objective and Key Results

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are a goal-setting methodology that helps companies to align and focus their efforts. Executed well, they create a workplace where everyone knows exactly what they need to get done, and feels motivated to do it. 

In this article we’re going to look at OKRs in some detail; specifically where they came from, their elements, and some of their key benefits and challenges.

The history of OKRs

“There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little.”
Andy Gove, CEO Intel

The OKRs story begins in the late 1960s, with a Hungarian immigrant called András István Gróf. Having survived scarlet fever and then both Nazi, and communist occupied Hungary, András escaped for the USA, where he began a new life as Andy Gove. He joined Intel as their third employee and made his way up to COO. 

As Intel expanded, he developed an innovative approach to management called ‘OKRs’.  In his book, “High Output Management.”  he distilled OKRs into two very simple questions: 

  1. Where do I want to go?
  2. How will I know when I have got there?

questions, how, what are okrs?

In 1974, John Doerr joined Intel as a salesman and was introduced to OKRs at a course taught by Andy Gove. Captivated, he introduced OKRs to Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were founding Google. 

OKRs are still central to Google’s culture and management style today and have been adopted by other behemoths such as Twitter, Spotify, Linkedin, Amazon, and Uber.

What are Objective and Key Results?

“I was quickly able to tie my work directly to the company’s goals. I kept my OKRs pinned up in my office and I wrote new OKRs every quarter, and the system has stayed with me ever since.”
John Doerr, venture capitalist, and tech investor

OKRs consist of two main elements:

  • Objectives: an aspirational statement indicating direction towards an outcome.
  • Key Results: 3-5 success criteria for each Objective, presented on a 0-100% scale or any numerical unit you choose.

To be effective, OKRs need to be written in straightforward language, have clear ownership, and be trackable over a specified period of time.

OKRs should align with each other, typically connected from the top down. This is known as a cascade. Cascading OKRs helps to provide focus and clarity by showing a ‘Golden Thread’ to connect the work that teams are doing with the strategic goals of the business. This gives teams an understanding of ‘why’ they are working on the things they are working on, while giving leadership teams an understanding of progress.

What are okrs, okrs, cascade of okrs, objectives and key results

Objectives: “Where do I want to go?”

An Objective is a statement of intent. It’s something your organisation or team wants to achieve, with an indication of the desired outcome. They can be inspiring and usually focus on the large aims of the company. 

outcomes, direction, focus

Effective Objectives

Aim to create 2-4 objectives per team. They should be:

  • Engaging – concise, memorable, and aspirational.
  • Aligned – to each other and to your organisation’s strategy.  
  • Owned – by someone/a team who can oversee their execution.

Objective examples

  • Achieve record online sales
  • Create a simple, yet powerful website

Key Results: “How will I know when I have got there?”

“The key result has to be measurable. But at the end you can look, and without any arguments: Did I do that or did I not do it? Yes? No? Simple. No judgements in it.”
John Doerr, venture capitalist and tech investor

Under each Objective sits a series of Key Results, or ‘KRs’. These help you understand whether you’ve met your Objective. They should be quantifiable with clearly defined numeric measures. (This eliminates opinion when you’re assessing whether you’ve met your Objective.)

Effective Key Results

Aim to create around 3-5 KRs per Objective. They should be: Key Results, OKRs, outcomes

  • Specific – focused on one area to measure.
  • Challenging – ideally stretching a bit beyond the team’s capabilities.
  • Defined as ‘committed or aspirational’
  • Tangible – something you’re able to mark progress against.
  • Quantifiable – for example 10%, 10 points, or £10,000

Key Result examples

  • Objective: Achieve record online sales
    KR: Hit £100,000 sales for Q1
  • Objective: Create a simple, yet powerful website
    KR: Average time spent on website increases by 35%


A set of Initiatives typically sit under each Key Result. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘hypothesis or bets’ because each Initiative describes a specific project or deliverable presumed to be required to successfully complete the Key Result.

Initiatives are often a series of experiments undertaken at the start of an OKR. When one of these experiment-based initiatives yields useful results it can be built upon and developed further in terms of budget, resources and/or time. On the other hand, initiatives that are making no impact on the progress of the KR may need to be stopped in favour of the ones that are.

Using the same example as earlier, this might look like:

Objective: Achieve record online sales
KR: Hit £100,000 quarterly profits
Initiative: Launch ‘refer a friend’ campaign to a small subset of our customers

Objective: Create a simple, yet powerful website the benefit of OKRs, success, outcomes
KR: Average time spent on website increases by 35%
Initiative: Conduct a series of small workshops with a cross-section of customers to find common pain points on the website

Committed and aspirational OKRs

“If you set a crazy, ambitious goal and miss it, you’ll still achieve something remarkable.”
Larry Page, co-founder of Google

Companies often differentiate between committed and aspirational OKRs:

Committed OKRs
These sorts of OKRs absolutely have to happen and often relate to a revenue or growth target. They are usually owned by an individual or team and are set to be achieved within a month or quarter. The expected score is 100%.

Aspirational OKRs
As the name suggests these OKRs are more ambitious, and sometimes known as ‘Moonshots’. They may be owned by an individual or team, and then reassigned as they roll over from year to year. The expected score is around 70%.

The benefits of OKRs

“OKRs have kept me and the rest of the company on time and on track when it mattered the most.”
Larry Page, co-founder of Google

Alignment and clarity
Cascading OKRs down from company strategy to the team and individual level means everyone’s efforts become linked together. Rather than teams working on unrelated things, all efforts are focused and coordinated, giving a sense of clarity that can otherwise be missing.

Where previously a company’s wider strategic goals were perhaps only known to senior management, OKRs are visible to everyone at all levels of an organisation. This helps foster collaboration and a sense of purpose by giving teams an understanding of what everyone else is working on and opportunities to work on shared goals together.

Data-driven decisions
Because Key Results are quantifiable, decisions become informed by fact and data rather than a hunch or opinion. By assessing the progress of your OKRs, you can monitor if you go off-course, and take action to make a change before problems arise. 

data-driven decisions

A deeply engaged team
When an organisation’s wider Objectives are transparent, each individual understands their unique contribution to the organisation’s success. By making teams directly accountable for OKRs each quarter, engagement increases along with a greater sense of purpose. 

Increased collaboration
OKRs distribute decision making around the company and allows different teams to work on KRs related to the same objective – driving collaboration and opportunities to innovate.

Focus on outcomes
Linking Initiatives to quantifiable Key Results (or outcomes) means the impact they’re having can be monitored. Then, if something is seen to be having an impact on the KR it can be invested in and developed. On the other hand, the things that aren’t moving the dial, can be stopped, and the results recorded and learnt from. This allows the whole organisation to take a more entrepreneurial approach and helps the ROI become clearer.

The challenges of OKRs

Although the idea behind OKRs may seem simple, the implementation takes time and patience. Here are some things to bear in mind as you consider whether OKRs are right for your organisation.

Getting buy-in
Successful implementation of OKRs takes commitment and buy-in from the top. Many companies will trial OKRs in smaller teams to get a feel for them before rolling out company-wide.

teams, teamwork, buy-in, commitment

Failing to achieve your OKRs
Objectives should be aspirational and ambitious in order for a company to grow. With this in mind, not meeting an Objective is inevitable and can affect morale. This can be mitigated by providing the right education around OKRs and their purpose, and an environment of Psychological Safety.

Keeping OKRs updated
Even the best-intentioned organisations sometimes spend weeks or even months creating OKRs, only to have them languish in a spreadsheet. Software platforms like Just3Things are designed to support cross-functional teams in setting OKRs, while ensuring that checking-in on OKR progress is easy.

Drafting effective OKRs
Writing OKRs can be deceptively time-consuming. Teams need to be trained and processes followed to make them effective and consistent across the board. It’s a good idea to draft OKRs in team meetings so they can be reviewed altogether. This also ensures they are relevant to the teams working on them.


As you can see, adopting OKRs is a journey you set out on, not a single event. Executed well, they can transform internal culture, increase collaboration and efficiencies, and ultimately the quality of your business outcomes. An OKRs software platform like Just3Things makes creating, communicating and tracking OKRs simple. Read more about our platform, or get in touch to find out more.

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The Importance of Psychological Safety at work

Psychological Safety

Want to know whether Psychological Safety exists within your workplace culture? Take note of who does most of the talking in your next team meeting. 

  • Do you notice that it’s one or two of the usual suspects who own the floor for the duration of your session? 
  • Or does everyone pipe up and share their ideas? 
  • Ask yourself whether you feel confident speaking up. Will you divulge any thoughts that pop up as you think of them?
  • Or do you tend to select and censor your thoughts, sharing only those that you feel are feasible or will be met with approval?

In many companies, the latter is true. Employees believe that their credibility is measured by how ‘smart’ they appear to others. Team leaders may state that there’s “no such thing as a bad idea” but shoot down any suggestions that don’t match their own views. Seniority can be a factor, with more junior employees often remaining silent and letting their senior colleagues come up with the ideas and take credit for the plans. 

So what?

This type of culture may seem harmless to most. Of course the more experienced team members should come up with the ideas – they know more, right? There’s no time to waste listening to ill-formed ideas and unfeasible suggestions. And if someone doesn’t speak up in a meeting, that’s their problem! There’s a job to be done and innovation doesn’t come from bad ideas.


Except that, actually, sometimes it does. Innovation is a funny thing. Sometimes the most incredible discoveries come from free thought, unburdened creativity and the uncensored sharing of ideas by colleagues who don’t fear judgement by their peers. The freedom to fail breeds a willingness to try. And happy employees are proven to produce better work. All of these traits are commonplace in organisations that imbue a culture of Psychological Safety. Coincidence? We think not.

What is Psychological Safety at work?

Following a two year study, Google has revealed that, “the highest-performing teams have one thing in common: Psychological Safety. The belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake.”

Let’s explore some common traits of Psychological Safety:

“Interpersonal trust”

At its core, interpersonal trust means that an individual can allow themselves to be vulnerable and take acceptable risks because they trust that others will not judge them. 

When interpersonal trust is inherent within a team, Psychological Safety abounds. And creating a culture of interpersonal trust begins at the top. A recent survey revealed that only 43 percent of employees think their boss is open to unique ideas and opinions. Without a leadership team who actively encourages freedom of thought and new ways of working, innovation cannot thrive. 

What to do about it

If you’re a team leader or senior business head, you need to ask yourself how much you actively encourage your team to come up with new ideas. Is yours a culture that accepts failure as an opportunity to learn? Do your employees feel safe to express their unique perspectives (and personalities) without fear of judgement? Are staff encouraged to work autonomously? 

If not, it’s time to learn more about building interpersonal trust. This is the first step towards embedding Psychological Safety within your company.

Psychological Safety


Many of us have worked in a company with a so-called ‘blame culture’. When something goes wrong, everyone is so concerned with the consequences that they create their own personal witchhunt! If everybody is set on finding a scapegoat to protect themselves, trust becomes non-existent. And, without trust, creativity dies. 

According to Dr. John Gottman, a world-renowned therapist, “Speaking our feelings and fears requires a willingness to be vulnerable. Often this vulnerability is mistaken as a sign of weakness, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Vulnerability is courageous. It’s a willingness to drop your shield and expose the unguarded underbelly of your fears, doubts, and insecurities.”

By creating a culture of Psychological Safety at work, we drop the blame and instead take on a shared responsibility. For failure, kindness and the safety of ourselves and others. Once the team can work without fear, they’ll become more comfortable with the vulnerability that’s required to share ideas, think creatively and take risks.

“Mutual respect”

This one may seem easy in theory. But, it requires ongoing effort to maintain a system of mutual respect within the team. Encouraging whistleblowing helps. Team members should be supported in calling out instances of disrespect between their colleagues. The process needs to be delicate and positive. 

Equally, senior leaders need to exhibit consistent behaviours of mutual respect – and consistency is absolutely key here. It needs to happen at all levels, all the time, regardless of the situation. Not quite so simple after all – but achievable with the right attitude and a genuine willingness to make it work.


In a team where mutual respect is innate, colleagues feel safe to be themselves and express their ideas. Psychological Safety exists because employees feel secure and happy, part of a supportive community that respects their individuality. Most importantly, mutual trust breeds cooperation between team members. Cooperation leads to progress. And…well you know what progress means for your business.

“Make mistakes and take risks” 

In Agile technology development, there exists a principle known as “Fail Fast”. Whilst it may sound like an ill-advised order to teams, it in fact refers to a culture of customer-facing testing. 

When it comes to building software, historical development processes included a lengthy documentation stage, where any and every potential outcome of the software was hypothesised. The software was built using this very carefully thought out documentation, a process which often took years to complete. By the time the software was completed and presented to customers, it might not behave as they had expected it to. Sometimes, customers’ needs had changed in the time it had taken to build the product. And in some cases, the software simply didn’t work. By contrast, the concept of fail fast creates a sense of urgency for getting the simplest workable version of the software (known as the MVP) to customers.

The MVP (minimum viable product) refers to the simplest workable version of software that can be used by customers. The MVP is a blueprint from which better versions are borne. It allows the customer to feedback on the solution, rather than the software – i.e. if this initial version was finessed to a more polished product, would they use it? What would need to be improved, removed or added? 

Devops Loop

Once feedback has been collected, development can continue and a far superior product will be created. Customer testing will be incorporated at every stage of development in this way, leading to better customer satisfaction and higher profits. 

However, if the feedback to the MVP is overwhelmingly negative and it’s clear that the product is never going to succeed, work stops. The project may be cancelled or re-imagined. But either way, this apparent ‘failure’ is seen as a learning opportunity, feedback is shared and incorporated into any future projects. The company avoids spending any more money on a project that would ultimately fail. And nobody is blamed.

A fail fast culture doesn’t happen by chance. Senior leaders should be the first to make it absolutely clear that it’s ok to fail. And this requires a level of personal awareness that many business chiefs don’t possess. So they need to learn it. 

Training courses, personal development sessions and even personal coaching can help. If a CEO equates their personal worth with the success of company projects, they won’t favour failure. 

Emotional Wellbeing

Emotionally intelligent leaders understand that failure is healthy for growth, both personally and professionally. And they’ll exhibit behaviours that encourage others to feel the same way. Once more people realise that it’s ok to fail, they’ll begin to trust their intuition and share their ideas. And the seeds of Psychological Safety will be sown.

Final thoughts…

“Google’s research of its own workforce revealed that psychological safety was the most important team norm for high-performing innovative workplaces – those norms are: Psychological safety; Dependability; Structure and clarity; Meaning and purpose; and Impact,”

There’s a good reason why some of the leading companies in the world (like Google) have a culture that prioritises Psychological Safety. Progress and success are the products of happy, motivated individuals working together without fear. Failure, risk taking and vulnerability should be rewarded as strengths, not weaknesses. And innovation should be seen as a by-product of a positive working environment, rather than a single-minded goal.


Road to SuccessAt Just3Things, we believe that innovation happens when talented individuals work together freely and with respect, to create products that customers need. Our software platform empowers businesses to align and focus their efforts, act quickly to change priorities and bring the right talent together to deliver results. Get in touch to find out more and to chat about how we can help your business.

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How to drive Employee Engagement

One of the most commonly discussed topics, and a real priority for many organisations right now, is how to engage and motivate their teams, and retain top talent. In this article we delve into the research and uncover the most effective ways to drive employee engagement.

Looking back at 2019 across all of the conferences we attended, the books we read, and the podcasts we listened to one of the most popular topics was on how to motivate teams to drive transformation and employee engagement.

Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards

Daniel Pink’s ideas around “Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose” from his book Drive kept cropping up. He suggests that contrary to popular belief, extrinsic rewards do not effectively motivate your team. These are physical and visible rewards such as bonuses or gifts (typically going hand-in-hand with the old carrot-and-stick approach). Instead, he suggests that in order to inspire your team and encourage innovation, engagement, and ultimately increase productivity, you need to look to intrinsic rewards to make a real impact. These are rewards that are personally satisfying to the individual, which we’ll explore below.


What is it? Empowering your employees to make their own decisions and prioritise their workloads, based on the strategy and direction of the organisation, which should be clearly communicated to them. When employees understand the context of why they are working on a particular task, and how this aligns to the overall strategy, they should be given the freedom to plan their work accordingly and come up with their own ideas of how to solve problems.

This has a huge impact on creativity, innovation, and job satisfaction. In particular, autonomous teams that can collaborate to find a solution or test a new theory, tend to make a real positive impact on an organisation. Using their understanding of the ‘why’, and their knowledge of the subject matter that they are experts in, to uncover solutions senior management may never have considered independently. 

A study conducted at Cornell University looked at 320 small businesses, half of which used a traditional Command and Control management style, and the other half gave their employees autonomy. The autonomous companies grew four times faster, AND they experienced one-third less staff turnover.

Even as early as 1980, psychologists Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham studied employee engagement and developed The Job Characteristics Model following a study of 658 employees – which is still widely used today:

Figure 1: Job Characteristics Model


Autonomy is crucial for real change to happen within an organisation, from all levels, not just within senior management teams. It’s crucial to retain top talent, foster a creative and innovative culture, and enhance productivity and growth. However, employees must be protected with psychological safety, where they feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable, and failing is acceptable in order to learn and adapt.


What is it? An understanding employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and providing opportunities for them to harness their skills while adopting a ‘growth mindset’. Mastery is another intrinsic motivator as most people relish the opportunity to get better at what they do and become experts in their field.

Pink discusses what he calls ‘Goldilocks tasks’; the ideal middle ground for your employees where they are not tasked with projects that they are unequipped for (which could be overwhelming and frustrating), nor are they too easy (which could be boring and demotivating). The middle ground is where they can challenge themselves and develop their skills and experience through learning and practice.

Pink discusses in an interview with Harvard Business Review the two key discoveries from his research into mastery:

  1. Feedback – not just feedback from your boss on personal development and progress, but feedback from your learnings. This means reviewing what you have worked on over the last sprint or quarter, how it has impacted the outcomes you are trying to achieve, which initiatives should be paused vs which could do with further investigation/resources/budget, and what you could do better next time. The feedback should come from all members of the team, in a safe environment for open and frank discussions, and should be for the purpose of improving on your next sprint or quarter to help you get closer to achieving your end goal. Regular feedback loops for teams are so crucial – they provide the opportunity to learn from past mistakes, identify successful initiatives, and be agile enough to make swift changes as and when required.
  2. Habit formation – most people tend to change habits over a longer period of time, so when you are given the resources to grow and enhance your skills, you won’t see immediate change and become an expert the next day. Over time you will see the results of your development and new habits that you have naturally acquired as your knowledge grows.


What is it? Aligning your teams to the company strategy so that they understand the bigger picture, why they are doing what they are doing, and working towards something bigger than themselves.

Pink argues that this is the biggest motivator with the biggest impact on productivity, job satisfaction, and engagement. It’s what gets you up in the mornings, motivated at work, and inspired to do better.

A study by Imperative found that 58% of companies with a clearly articulated and understood purpose experienced 10% more growth than those without one. It also found that 73% of purpose-oriented people are satisfied with their jobs. These results were consistent globally.

Deloitte conducted a study on employee engagement and found that “mission-driven” companies have 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% higher levels of employee retention, while also being first or second in their market segment.

To truly establish purpose in their company culture, businesses should change their focus from output (the endless tasks that need to be completed, with no measurement on how they impact the business) over to outcomes (success looks like an increase of X, so let’s work on Y tasks to see if they help us meet that target). Employees can then understand not only the outcomes that they are trying to achieve for their own teams, but the outcomes for the company as a whole and how they are contributing towards it.

The era of intrinsic rewards is already here

There is countless literature to support that extrinsic rewards are outdated and don’t work in the modern world. If we look to the most successful global organisations we can see that most, if not all, have already implemented these policies and are reaping the benefits. Many of these organisations, including Google, Amazon, Netflix, Deloitte, Spotify, and many, many more, use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to implement this framework.

Whichever methodology you choose, remember that this is a long-term and ongoing transformation that will not be achieved overnight, but will drive real growth, innovation, and employee engagement when done properly.


Published by: Tima Bouqdour

Date: 15/01/2020


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J3T was born from within one of the UK’s fastest growth Unicorn companies

OKRs, Outcomes,

We are asked all the time what exactly Just3Things does and how the software adds value to organisations. One of the simplest ways to answer to this is to go back to our original conception within OVO Energy, a UK green energy supplier, that decided to transform to become more agile and implement OKRs. Following many challenges and obstacles, it became apparent that a software tool was required to effectively implement OKRs and provide the transparency, focus, and alignment required to successfully track and drive progress, but with no suitable software platforms available on the market…voila! Just3Things was born.

Kim Atherton CEO & Co-Founder of Just3Things and former Chief People Officer of Ovo Energy, and Ed Connolly CTO of Ovo Energy recently presented at SEACON 2019. They describe how OVO Energy began as a tiny start-up and transformed their organisation, empowered their teams, built a software platform, and ultimately became a Unicorn organisation that has now purchased SSE to become the second-largest energy provider in the UK.

Watch the video to hear their story.


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J3T CEO and Co-Founder Kim Atherton interviewed by TedxBristol

OKRs, Ted Talks, TedxBristol

J3T CEO and Co-Founder Kim Atherton interviewed by TEDxBristol to discuss the challenges of traditional organisational structure and how this hinders innovation and employee satisfaction.
Kim delves into the benefits of cross-functional teams, and how re-structuring your organisation can break down silos, add value to your customers, and engage your employees.

Watch the full interview below:

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Webinar: The Customer-Centric Company: Focusing Teams on Outcomes vs Deliverables

For your convenience, the webinar is now available on-demand:

Listen Here


Blockbusters; Nokia; Toys R Us – history is littered with examples of organisations too slow to adapt to change. Large enterprises are fully aware of the burning platform to become more nimble – in fact 82% of global enterprises have embarked on a strategic re-design in the past 3 years*. However the focus is typically internal – on systems, processes, ways of working and organisational design, rather than measurable outcomes.                  

Catch up as Kim Atherton, Co-founder & CEO of Just3Things, leads a candid conversation with thought leaders from Worldpay and The Guardian, as well as renowned business advisor and author Barry O’Reilly, on why starting with customer outcomes is essential if your transformation is going to succeed, and your organisation survive.

*McKinsey, Jan 2018

Outcomes, OKRs, transformation

Tanya Cordrey has previously worked in several sectors including ecommerce with eBay & eToys, financial services with Zopa as well as the BBC. Until the end of 2015, she was Chief Digital Officer at Guardian News & Media, playing a key role in the digital transformation of The Guardian into a global brand with more than 150 million unique users each month. Tanya now sits on the boards of various companies, such as Clarks, and runs innovation and product consultancy Granary Square.




Outcomes, OKRs, transformation

Spiros Theodossiou is SVP Product Management for WorldPay’s Global Enterprise. Prior to Worldpay, he was VP at vouchercodes and at Skrill Inc. where he led the product and design teams and focussed on agile methodologies to quickly and efficiently deliver features that customers love.




Outcomes, OKRs, transformation

Barry O’Reilly is the author of two international bestsellers Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results, and Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale—included in the Eric Ries series, and a Harvard Business Review must read for CEOs and business leaders. He is an internationally sought-after speaker, frequent writer and contributor to The Economist, Strategy+Business, and MIT Sloan Management Review and faculty at Singularity University.


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