Beyond the OKR Methodology with Ivan Osmak at Gtmhub

Have you heard about the OKR methodology? This OKR methodology has taken the world of leadership by storm. My guest today is Ivan Osmak, Co-founder of GTMHub. This company has been in hypergrowth mode because of the demand to bridge the gap between strategy and operational execution… We talk about why OKRs are essential. We look beyond the traditional usage of OKR methodology. Ivan even shares the common mistakes with the OKR Methodology.

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Ivan Osmak: The Transcript

Target Audience: Ivan Osmakis the CEO at Gtmhub. Gtmhub’s platform enables Executives and Managers to amplify staff effort and accelerate growth by connecting Strategic Priorities to daily actions using the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) methodology employed by Intel, Google, and other high performing companies.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Ivan Osmak
Every executive, every manager, every individual has this same experience, you know, of basically seeing someone else failing. And then saying, Well, you know, this person failed, maybe I can help. But at the very least, I see they’re pushing forward. So I’m gonna push forward.

Intro [0:17]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [0:33]
You’ve probably heard about OKRs. Maybe read a book about it. Maybe your company has embraced okrs and you know the power of it. Well, we’re going to be talking with a special guest today. But let’s just talk a little bit about what okrs objectives and key results. This has a foundation in the technology world. I won’t go through the details, but the very simple aspect of it is getting up a clear objective, what do we would directly Are we going, and what’s the focus for us as an organization. And then once you have that clear, then you create goals underneath that which are called key results. They’re very specific. They’re very measurable. And those are the things that tie together that help organizations move and navigate fast growth. Now, if you are on the inkless, you’ve probably heard this, you probably heard companies talk about the power of these things. They can go off the rails, you can overemphasize these things. So today, we’re going to be talking with Ivan Osmak, he’s a co-founder at Gtmhub. The GTM is a company that creates the automation behind this because they really believe that you should be able to measure them and they should be automatic when you get to a certain point, they should automatically flow into it. And there should be open transparency. One of the best things about this interview is to talk about the power of transparency. And we talked about that from the perspective of the okrs but it really works across all parts of the organization. So stay tuned to this end with Ivan.

Commercial [2:00]
Thanks for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank really excited about sharing this with you. And before you run, I have done so many interviews in the last few weeks, I have such an exciting time to share with you those interviews that have been organized into the 12 core principles of fast-growth companies. So all you have to do get that it’s go to So you can get the 12 principles and I’ve been able to go in there and find which episodes will align to each individual episode. When you subscribe to Growth Think Tank, you will find exactly what you need so that you can move forward and many of them haven’t been published yet depending on when you’re hearing this. But you can tune in to the date that means the most to you. Now here is the interview with Ivan Osmak co-founder of Gtmhub

Gene Hammett [2:47]
Hi Ivan, how are you?

Ivan Osmak [2:49]
Hi Gene, doing great. How are you?

Gene Hammett [2:51]
I am Fantastic. Well, I have been excited to talk to you about this conversation because I hear it amongst a lot of owners but before we get into it Tell us a little bit about Gtmhub.

Ivan Osmak [3:03]
Yeah, Gtmhub is a company that helps predominantly large organizations, I would say first and foremost, set the manager okrs. But much more important we help them to be successful helps them to achieve their goals, to the objectives and key results framework. And the way we do that is basically we connect to about a hundred 50 different business systems. And we automatically update key results, making basically the company see the performance in real-time and being able to change course, very rapidly and not waiting one or two quarters. So that would be it.

Gene Hammett [3:43]
Well, objective and key results are probably familiar to most of the audience but for those that haven’t, give us your best kind of definition of those.

Ivan Osmak [3:53]
Sure. So objectives and key results. I think it’s probably the fifth or sixth preparation of ways to set and manage goals. It really comes to managing goals. And the reason why they’re so popular and so why don’t pop you’re actually today is that they’re so simple. So basically we have an objective which is a qualitative statement such as we want to grow more or we want to, you know, ship better product or whatever it is something that communicates What is your goal, what is your intention to everyone in the organization. And then you have key results, which basically say, this is how we are going to measure success. So, if it’s going more than it could be, we want to achieve monthly growth of 18%. We also want to have, let’s say a CV of $50,000. Because of one of the main differences that I think okrs and bring that KPIs who are who were dominant before that brings is this multidimensionality. So you can basically draw a box of constraints not just have one number, but you can say okay, we want to add 2000 new customers, but we don’t want to spend hundreds New indoors on marketing right? So you can kind of put it in our realistic way. So that’s basically it that’s okrs you have objective you have three to four measurements and you just spread this across the organization.

Gene Hammett [5:14]
So when I talk about this with clients, you know that the objectives are really kind of high level, their directional and their focus based. And companies have more than one OKR what’s your kind of, you know, principles around how many okrs to have, I know it probably varies by team and where you are but what are the principles you go by?

Ivan Osmak [5:37]
So I would say and this is maybe a bit different and I would say the less the better because one of the main reasons why you want to adopt okrs is focused right? So if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority, right? And this is where this I would say the okrs and even if you don’t use software and even if you cannot fail with the process where they bring tremendous value is the thinking process very goal to Okay, we have this 15 things we would like to do as a company. But this is the one that’s most important are those are the two most important three would be absolute maximum.

Ivan Osmak [6:10]
And what I’ve seen is that a three basic or any entities will be company department would have three individual could have three teams could have three, but no one single entity should own more more than tree and I would say, if you can do it with less, it’s better the message becomes clear the people get mobilized against it, they see. Okay, so it’s really about the growth, they don’t care about profits, we don’t care about gross margin. Sorry, I keep talking about the size of business because this is what they do 24 seven, but the tighter it is basically just like product, just like basically anything you like writing or whatever it is. The tighter you make it, the cleaner you make it the more effective it gets. So I would say three at the max if you can do it with one, which may be a really kind of exercising reductionism, that would be great, but one or two are usually receipts to work the best.

Gene Hammett [7:01]
I like fewer as well, when I think about this with my teams, because if you’ve got distracted too many areas and ends up not really getting anywhere. When you take this to the next level, because I think of you know, the okrs are great at the very top level with executive team setting direction and focus for the company, each individual team, like an engineering team, or serve customer service team or sales team and marketing teams, all these teams should also have their okrs. Tell us a little bit about how the team kind of works with that.

Ivan Osmak [7:33]
Yeah, I mean, in our case, and what we think is the best practice we also think that every individual would have an okay or at least one. So, as you said, it’s, I would say it’s quite easy to set it for the company. And those actually don’t, don’t tend to change that that often. So for example, a Gtmhub that we advise our customers is to set company level cares to be an annual basis because you’re not going to change your plans. Your strategy every quarter, right?

Ivan Osmak [8:02]
Where is your tactics and implementation of how are you going to get there that changes and these are all done by teams by individuals by departments? And then I would say what we learned that we’ve been doing this now for quite some time, almost five years will be learned is that there are basically several types of objectives that you want to do. And I think you know, from KPI methodology, you have this idea of lagging and leading indicators. And I think that first time people tend to focus too much on the lagging indicators, which is, you know, by far the most popular first OKR in our trials is increased revenue. I mean, it’s like 98% right so I wouldn’t say it’s too surprising but okay, you know, increase revenues fine. We need to track this we need to know where it has to go. And that’s completely fine. But then if you’re let’s say, account executive, maybe or you’re an SDR team or whatever, right. the way you’re going to impact this. A lot of times it depends on your behavior. So for example, you know, as an account executive, are you qualifying enough? Right?

Ivan Osmak [9:11]
That’s kind of, I think, a lot of junior and less experienced salespeople, they just go and want to close the deal without really asking too many questions, right? Or you just send the quote right away. So you know, you, you could have basically an objective as account executive, improved qualification, and then you will have various metrics around that, which will be you know, gets at least five problems, or at least seven pro ones have at least six people involved on the deal because you need to get different perspectives, right. And this is what we call a leading indicator, and what happens is basically always it’s you know, it sounds like magic, but there’s nothing magical. once people start really qualifying the deals, they start closing the deals. So they do they hit there, their lagging indicator. The same goes for engineering, you know, and I can give here many examples. You know what, we’ll do it Engineering?

Ivan Osmak [10:01]
Well, you know, one thing is you could say, ship more features fine. Okay, call your ship more features, right? Well, you know, if you’re, if you’re really doing agile, that means that you’re going to have smaller pieces of work, you’re going to cut them in more pieces. So this is what you can track, instead of saying, you know, ship five features, you could say, no single story to last more than three days. And then it’s, it’s this behavior, I would say okrs that you have in every single function that really creates magic down the road. And then as a department, you would say you would have these lagging indicators, right. Okay. Department itself is just a collection of people. So the department kind of has a yes, we need to sell the item. 7 million bookings this quarter, that’s what we need to do. But the people how are they going to, you know, it’s this mix of basically a behavior of target of aspiration of everything. And, you know, once, once it’s deployed properly, what we see is basically Okay, are the only true, like a class in the I was going to say, the famous company, I think we all know about them, right one of the I would say probably best companies I’ve ever seen. with them, they have this thing inside where if you want to get something done if you cannot prove like, Okay, this is my car, and this is your car, and if they don’t match, it doesn’t get done. I mean, it becomes this supernatural law, basically where you cannot go over it right. This is when it’s deployed, I would say you know, completely in the beginning, people kind of just try it out. But those would be some of the examples.

Commercial [11:39]
Hold on for a second. I haven’t just talked about everyone having an individual OKR. Now what this really means is that you want each individual person to have a number that they can track to they want to have that objective, but they also want to have the key measurements are the key results that allow them to see where they’re on track now We talked about this a little bit further into the interview, we talked about the power of transparency. But when everyone has a number that they’re attached to, it gives them something to focus on. And they know when they’re off the mark. They don’t need all the reviews that they need in places where they don’t have these numbers. But you they know exactly where they needed to show up. Now, hopefully, they will raise their hand. And it was saying, hey, look, I need a little bit of help with this because this is this is in depth jeopardy of not getting to where we want to be. So I want to make sure that we’re on target. I really believe that each individual person should have measurable okrs but also they should have something that they’re personally attached to maybe a skill they’re trying to learn and and really move their business forward. They would show up to work with more ownership when they have that back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [12:47]
Well, we got a pretty good basis of okrs how they’ve applied at the top level two teams and even to the individual levels. I really love that aspect. When you think about, you know your work and what you’re doing Give us an idea of how Gtmhub.

Ivan Osmak [13:06]
Yeah, so I think that you know, okrs they’re almost devilishly simple and you know, I just explained to you the whole basic everything you need to know about okrs and explain to you in like 30 seconds. So there is really not much more than that. So people see them or read an article, read the book, whatever. This is, by the way, one of the typical kinds of ways that someone comes to us their CEO was flying, he read the John Doerr book, you know, came back and said look, you’re doing this right. So then we have to kind of reel them back a bit.

Ivan Osmak [13:37]
So what we are doing is is we are making this I would say the very unpleasant reality of implementing okrs we are making it both pleasant and possible. And especially when you go at scale, right. So if you’re 1015 people you can do okrs anywhere you want. You know, you can have positive notes you can have Asana, Excel, whatever. Even a 30 people, this is our kind of number when we see that they are breaking, it just becomes a bit too much right to manage. And then No, I mean, these last few days, so remote work is all the rage in Twitter and everywhere, right? So how do you manage this with remote people? And I mean, we’re a small company, we’re only about 70 people. And we have five offices, right? And then a bunch of people working from home. And this is one I would say single, true that you have, this is where it needs to be digital. Right?

Ivan Osmak [14:27]
This is the one this is how we fit. And then second thing and I think Here we are, maybe, maybe have a very different opinion than everyone else, almost a bit radical in so much that we think that if you cannot automate a key result, it’s a bad key result, right? And ultimate, you know, it doesn’t have to be vegetarian, whatever it is. And, you know, the reason why we think this is so important is that if you don’t have this very clear way of getting some key results gonna end up being fourth, right? And then you know, you maybe you updated maybe you don’t maybe it’s very hard to update it, you know, or, or it’s maybe just bad like, you know, people have I carried five business books, no one cares about this or cares about outcome, not about output, you know, your outcome shouldn’t be too close, I don’t know, you know, increase your win rate by 30% if you’re a salesperson, or you’re gonna listen to podcasts, read books, you know, get hypnotized or whatever, that’s completely up to you. I don’t care you know, your boss doesn’t care.

Ivan Osmak [15:30]
Our board doesn’t care. No one cares about this, right? And then the question is, you know, how do you automate reading five books all you shouldn’t? Because of the OKR? Right? So if you don’t have this data if you don’t know it, and that’s I would say that that’s first our general guiding idea that if you can automate it, it’s not a good result. And this is how we fit right because there was no way and there is still no way to do it. Aside from us, and that will be I said, you know, we call it sometimes the enterprise singularity and all kinds of crazy wars that we draw around. We actually don’t publicly talk about this. But this idea that everything is known in real-time in an organization, everything that needs to be known, right?

Gene Hammett [16:12]
Well, I know when we talk about this, it’s very easy for the natural leader to go Okay, great. This is very numbers-driven. I love the fact that it’s, it’s measurable or even automated. But when we talked about this, one of my concerns was it was people overemphasize the numbers and the strategy, and they don’t really focus on the people’s side of this. So when you think about, I’m gonna ask you my magic question around this with fast-growth companies, as a leader, what’s more, important employees or customers?

Ivan Osmak [16:43]
Oh, customers. Employees without any doctor? Yeah, no. I mean, you know, we make a lot of mistakes, I would say, all the time. Not not, I mean, we as a company, but I would, I would imagine all the other companies and you know, Good Times come and then bad times come and the only thing that’s constant I think is the is a strong team and taking care of, of employees making sure I mean in all in all senses, you know, from I am from Eastern Europe.

Ivan Osmak [17:13]
So I think that you know, financially taking care of before is paramount. That’s the first thing, kind of the table stakes. But then, you know, just making sure that everyone I think understands why are we doing this? What’s the point? And you know, it’s very hard obviously to work long hours or not to work long hours but to work high density I think working in or eight hours, with a hundred percent concentration, is basically impossible, right? So I’m not going into the whole weekend but so how okrs fit into this, you know, and how they make the team stronger. One is they bring almost radical transparency.

Ivan Osmak [17:54]
So for example, in our company, and most of our customers, every single person or persons who joined yesterday. knows our MRR our growth, our churn everything that’s legally possible in Europe, for example, salaries can be shared, otherwise, we would share this as well, but it’s against some privacy laws, right. So that’s I think that you know, that basically makes this everyone’s mission to a degree because there’s no hiding. I think on another hand, you know, what it does, when we set the okrs and everyone can see my OKR and the company’s okrs and then held me accountable for this. It just, it again, it makes it I would say much more of a team effort and just you know, kind of miss out shooting from management below. So, I would say you know, and basically what I would say when everyone knows what they were doing, why are we doing it and how are they helping and then their peers, superiors, and people who report to them also know that It just makes this very healthy atmosphere very, you know, it’s very hard to do politics, it’s very hard to, you know, use information as security and old as currency and all these other things that I think, you know, happen in organizations without this transparency. So that’s a very long answer.

Ivan Osmak [19:16]
I would say transparency basically, is the main reason with transparency comes ownership, purpose, self, sense of purpose, and all the other things that we do, because at least in it, industry, you know, most people can actually find a job like 30 minutes after quitting the previous one. So you cannot really keep people without, you know, making this somehow common.

Commercial [19:41]
Let’s hold on for a second. I haven’t just talked about that is employee first. I know he’s done that a little bit. But he really does believe that its employee first, and a lot of people may disagree with that. But let me let you into my research if you haven’t heard this before, but I’ve talked to over 500 founders and CEOs of fast growing companies, just like Ivan and all the people listening in here, and many of those people, when I asked this question will say that it’s employee first. Now, I don’t mean just a fraction about 50%. I mean, almost 94%. I’ve been tracking this for a long time, I’ve got some some very specific data around this. We’re writing the book about a lot of these aspects, but they believe in employee first, what that really means is, as leaders, they are really understand the importance of retaining valuable talent, of really getting them optimized and engaged in the work that they’re doing. And so their job is to make sure that’s possible. But that means the company is able to put the customer first. So it doesn’t mean the customers not important, it just means the leaders job is to focus on the employees when you get to a certain point of growth. And you really want to stay that a lot of bigger companies lose sight of that they focus back on customers because of short term needs and the need to hit quarterly numbers and things like that. So I really want to remind you of this one Research. Now back to the interview with Ivan.

Gene Hammett [21:03]
I love the fact that you include in there about radical transparency, it is about the numbers and okrs really fit that. But it’s also the notion that we’re going to be open and honest with each other. And we’re going to see what each other’s up to like you’re not, you know, we’ve all worked in those situations where people have tried to hide their work or hide what they’re doing, and those things just cause problems inside cultures and leadership. And this way of doing it really does open that bit of transparency. Now, I will tell you, a lot of people get scared when they talk about sharing financials and all these aspects, what has been the value of, of sharing the financials across your organization?

Ivan Osmak [21:46]
Well, I think again, you know, I think there is an inherent trust that we have in the organization in and in each other, regardless of you know, the hierarchy, we have a very, I would say so. simple and clear hierarchy or one of the few startups have had org charts, like since employee three. And you know, it’s again about radical transparency, there is no this well, you know, you’re really the boss now you’re really, you know, you’re running this, it’s all like this. And once you have I mean, once you see the numbers, I think it brings also a lot of humility across the organization, you know, I can speak from my own example. So, for example, this last year, I had an OKR, which was to raise a series A, and then you know, it was key results were like the pitch to this many investors, whatever it was, right? And then, you know, and then it gets this many term sheets, and then they after they, you know, as anyone knows, who was fundraising, you go in and I say, okay, you know, this particular fund said, No, this fund said, No, you know, so there’s, I mean, it just brings this idea that you know, everyone sees me basically failing and just Still going forward? And there is no you know, this like.

Ivan Osmak [23:02]
Well, you know, I went there, I told them, you know, jazz hands and they said, you know, where should we wire the money? And I think that this, this kind of, you know, I use my myself as an example but every executive, every, every manager, every individual has this same experience, you know, of basically seeing someone else failing, and then saying, Well, you know, this person failed, maybe I can help, but to the very least, you know, I see they’re pushing forward so I’m going to push forward and I and again, it comes back to this. I would say cohesiveness You know, I think you know, that, again, I’m speaking about us as a company, mostly because of okrs not as, as a function of something else. But you know, it’s we, we always have any company, we had some really, really hard times and then you have some really good times, but when people know that, you know, okay, now we’re in the hard mode.

Ivan Osmak [23:55]
And then we are out, then you know, this fear of all you know what’s going on. speculations and everything else that, you know, may happen is just disappearing, because everyone knows, and everyone knows what’s going on. So, I would say that that is absolutely the single most important thing that comes out of this transparency that if, if if, you know, if the numbers are not there if the facts are not there, people will make them up on their own, and they’re usually much worse than, than the actual ones, right. But there will always be some sort of facts, you know, going around the water cooler, or people who smoke or people who drink coffee or whoever, you know, people who go out they will have the speculations and, and, and that’s that, just in my opinion, to the very least very much reduces the productivity. And on the, I would say on the extreme side can actually kill the company. Right. It’s just this idea of…

Gene Hammett [24:52]
I agree with you. And I think the people that try to manage that from leadership, you know, the fear that that runs through that actually permeates All aspects of the organization because fear sharing the numbers is, is is a real thing. When you think about okrs, and in your perspective across many companies and what you’re doing, give us one or two mistakes as we wrap up today’s episode.

Ivan Osmak [25:16]
Yeah, I think that you know, the number one mistake or the overarching mistake is thinking that this is some magic potion that you know, now we adapt. Okay, arson, you know, we will be Google in one quarter. I mean, I really don’t think there is any magic I oftentimes I compare it to, let’s say to, you know, to starting to work out and maybe going some of this, you know, dietary regimes, a keto or whatever. Yeah, I mean, it definitely works. If you go to the gym five times a week, and you stick to your regime, you will achieve whatever you know, you want to lose 50 pounds or you won’t gain 20 pounds and muscles. It will absolutely happen. I mean, a hundred percent of the times right.

Ivan Osmak [25:59]
That being said, It’s very hard to do it and what I would say your character, basically an old character, you’re either a diet or, or, or a gym, if you will, they do give you the ability to, you know, to have a, I would say safely, you know, you have this machine so you’re not going to get injured and you know what to do, and there is a plan, this is what we need to do. So this is what Okay, so they’re not any more than that. That being said, you know, you will sweat a lot. So going back to mistakes thinking that now just that you said them, you know, that’s gonna be first and everything’s gonna work. No, it’s not. And then second is, basically it’s a mistake, but also a solution in one. I always hit one OKR, which is basically Cupid okrs It’s a metal, okay, right. So I assign it to myself, and it’s always you know, everyone’s gonna have an OKR there’s no, not wanting to be okrs without key results or bad okrs or whatever pumped to go into details and we will keep 70% and then this basically becomes my obsession for a quarter. Right?

Ivan Osmak [27:07]
Make sure everyone has okrs make sure they’re doing it now that everyone is doing good, you know, we see that something is failing then go there. So, I would say the mistake is to think it’s going to be too easy. And then second not to take it seriously. I mean, it does work. It’s they are the rails to success but you still need to really really push and you know, it’s both encouraging disappointing at the same time.

Gene Hammett [27:30]
Well, I think they’re, they’re a solid framework for those organizations that want to stay together work toward you know, something together and really have the ability to be transparent about our progress toward that. And you know, I know GTMhub is great for, you know, the automation of these things, and I really appreciate you sharing your insights, Ivan and being here on the Growth Think Tank podcast.

Ivan Osmak [27:56]
Thanks so much, Gene.

Gene Hammett [27:58]
Wow, what a powerful interview. I really love the way he explained some of these things. So it’s really easy for those to understand okrs if you’ve never heard of him before, I know his accents a little bit strong, but I wanted to make sure that this was available to you because it really important for you to have objectives for the entire team to know what direction you’re going and what you’re focusing on. And to have results those key results behind that really to measure your progress. I love the fact that we talked about lagging and leading indicators, really important to understand the difference between them and really what how most people are missing the opportunity to focus on leading indicators. Well, this wraps up this episode of Growth Think Tank, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it. As always, lead the courage will see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


GTT Featuring Ivan Osmak



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