From Simple to Complex:
A Case Study of OKR Implementation in a Big Bank

Author Denis Tuchin
Certified OKR Coach, Enterprise Agile Coach
This case study outlines the journey of a large universal bank that gradually implemented OKR practices over a period of two years.
Company Portrait:
This universal bank boasts a portfolio of 1000 products and comprises 100 tribes, which had already operated in an Agile context for four years. However, their goal-setting system lacked the necessary focus on metrics.
Reasons for Adopting OKR:
The bank decided to implement OKR practices to achieve the following goals:
  1. Measure progress effectively throughout each quarter.
  2. Understand the correlation between product efforts and outcomes.
  3. Establish a clear link between tribe backlogs and objectives.
  4. Align tribe goals with the company's overall objectives.
Sponsorship of the Implementation:
The implementation of OKRs was sponsored by the Deputy President of the company.
How were OKRs implemented?
The implementation of OKRs occurred at four levels: the company level, the business block level, the tribe level, and the product level. The initial rollout of OKRs was focused on revenue-generating tribes. After two cycles, which demonstrated the approach's effectiveness, the implementation extended to supporting tribes. Setting Objectives and Key Results for revenue-generating tribes was relatively simple, while for other tribes, a methodology was developed to measure their impact.
Implementation Process:
  1. Leadership Communication: The Deputy President addressed the entire company during a Town Hall, explaining the purpose of OKRs and the high-level roadmap for implementation.
  2. Workshops by Agile Coaches: Agile coaches conducted workshops in each tribe, teaching them how to set OKRs using 1-2 product examples from each tribe.
  3. Independent OKRs Setting: Subsequently, the tribes and the products, with the assistance of Agile coaches if needed, set their own OKRs.
Ensuring Alignment between OKRs:
To maintain alignment between OKRs, the following synchronizations were carried out:
  • Twice a year, OKRs were synchronized between business blocks.
  • Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) were conducted in each business block to synchronize Objectives between tribes.
  • OKR-QBRs were held quarterly within each tribe.
  • Monthly OKR Check-Ins between products to ensure consistency not only within the same level but also with the higher-level goals.
Our Know-how:
In the first year, a target was set to have at least 60% measurable Key Results. By year-end, direct coaching of the products resulted in achieving measurable Key Results ranging from 70% to 100% for different tribes.
The next step was to ensure that at least 60% of OKRs were aligned with the company's objectives.
Finally, beyond the traditional OKR approach, efforts were made to measure the impact of initiatives linked to OKRs in monetary terms.
Tools Used:
All OKRs were stored in Jira as Epics.
Different levels of OKRs were linked together, and product-level OKRs were connected to real Epics (initiatives) of the products.
A dashboard was developed for a quick overview of tribes and products, highlighting cases where:
  • Less than 60% of OKRs were linked with higher-level OKRs.
  • Less than 60% of the backlog was related to OKRs.
Challenges faced during implementation:
During the OKR implementation, several products were discovered to be in development based on the request of some top managers. However, neither the Product Owner nor the Tribe Lead could formulate OKRs for these products. These problematic products were flagged on the dashboard, and after board inspection, OKRs were formulated for some of them.
What Would We Do Differently?
At the start of the implementation, we could dedicate more time to educating the board members on OKR principles and practices.
Also, we could provide more assistance in setting business block-level OKRs.
Benefits of Implementing OKRs:
The bank received the following benefits from the implementation of OKRs:
  • Reduction in initiatives that were not aligned with the company's objectives or lacked calculated business impact.
  • Enhanced focus of tribes and products on a limited set of goals.
  • Abandonment of products that were not aligned with the company's objectives or had a lower business impact than their costs.
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