As an Agile Coach working with multiple teams, I have struggled to help them stay focused on the highest-priority work.
As we introduced Objectives and Key Results to gain more client- and Outcome-centricity, teams have lacked a simple way to keep the most important work front and center. Traditional roadmaps were either too high-level, or unhelpful to show progress against the metrics that mattered. Regular OKR check-ins proved helpful, but teams lost context on short-term execution, and would get blindsided by crucial tanking metrics.
There had to be a better way, but any alternative seemed too complicated.
Meet Christina Wodtke
Christina Wodtke is former director of design at Yahoo!, Principal Product Manager at LinkedIn, GM at Zynga, and a current Stanford University lecturer. She’s shared many of her insights across teachings, talks, and three books: Pencil Me In, The Team That Managed Itself, and Radical Focus 2.0, the quintessential OKR guide.
Enter Christina’s Four Square
Initially introduced in the first edition of Radical Focus, I immediately recognized the sheer brilliance of Christina’s Four Square (“4sq”) model.
Finally, teams could see everything that mattered in one place.
A Four Square example
The below example focuses on an online whisky retailer, going clockwise from the upper left-most quadrant:
- Priorities This Week (What needs to get done NOW)
- P1 — Finalize creative
- P1 — Understand client journey drop-offs
- P1–5 interviews with valid engineer candidates
- OKR Confidence (The higher-level moonshot “why” behind the work)
- Objective: Become the iconic rebel of online whiskey purveyors
- KR: Increase whiskey club membership retention from 40% to 80% — 5/10
- KR: Increase organic referrals from 10 to 30 per month — 7/10
- KR: Increase Average Revenue Per User from $30 to $60 — 4/10
- Health Metrics (What we should protect as we strive for OKRs)
- Customer Satisfaction — Green
- Team Health — Yellow
- Daily Active Users — Yellow
- Upcoming Big Projects (Highest-priority things to stay ahead of)
- Mobile app revised biometric login
- Onboard new bourbon wholesalers
- In-app and SMS notifications upgrade
- Test new subscription models
Going deeper into the Four Square
Over the next few essays, we’ll delve more into each quadrant, and how to make best use of the Four Square to help your team, in Christina’s words, achieve “Radical Focus.”
Part 2 in this series goes into the right side of the Four Square, with OKR Confidence Rating and Health Metrics.
Part 3 in this series discusses how the left side of the Four Square highlights a team’s current highest-priority tasks, as well as upcoming crucial work.
Wodtke, Christina. Radical Focus SECOND EDITION: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results (Empowered Teams) (pp. 123–125). Cucina Media, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Updated with feedback from Christina Wodtke, added Confidence numbers to OKRs.
Added link to Part 2 in this series.
Photo by Felix Mittermeier from Pexels
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