Hellmann Worldwide Logistics develop Objectives and Key Results

noventum consulting supports Hellmann Worldwide Logistics through OKR Bootcamps

// Agility, Corporate Culture, IT Processes and Organisation

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) are among the much discussed leadership and management methods worldwide. The idea behind them is to steer companies through ambitious goals and measurable measures and to strengthen results, motivation and togetherness through maximum transparency. At Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, the "IT & Digital" department began structuring its work with OKRs a year ago. With the support of the management consultancy noventum consulting, representatives from different IT teams have now reviewed their previous approach in several workshops and set new standards for future work.

IT & Digital as pioneers of modern management methods

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics SE & CoKG is one of Germany's leading transport and logistics companies, headquartered in Osnabrück. Founded in 1871, today more than 10,000 people work for Hellmann worldwide. The range of services includes the classic forwarding services by truck, rail, air and sea freight, as well as an extensive range of CEP services, contract logistics, industry and IT solutions.

The Group's own IT has more than 400 employees, around 250 of them in Germany. In 2020, the "Digital Customer Experience" and "Rapid Application Development" teams began to reorganize their work using the OKR methodology. Prepared through internal training and a great deal of personal commitment, the colleagues implemented the method for their departments and defined their goals (Objectives) and measures (Key Results).

After the first OKR trial phase, the Osnabrück-based company now engaged the management consultancy noventum consulting to critically review the previous path to OKR through external expertise and to sharpen processes and measures. By working with an external sparring partner, they hoped to gain new inspiration for the effective application of this management method and to strengthen motivation in the team.

In the pilot phase, we approached the OKR methodology step by step. Team spirit was one of the key elements in this experimental phase. Through the open approach and motivation of the colleagues to improve the approaches in the team, we were able to get to know the OKR methodology very well. The promising results of the pilot phase have awakened in us the ambition to handle OKRs even better. This was the impetus for the workshop series with noventum.

Katrin Frambach IT Project & Portfolio Management | Lead Specialist Hellmann Worldwide Logistics SE & Co. KG

Professionalism check in the OKR Bootcamp

Workshop 1: Sharpening methodology

The guiding questions of the first workshop related to technical aspects of the OKR model and to the conditions of concrete implementation.

  • How do I specifically define Os and KRs?
  • How do I define Os and KRs measurably?
  • How do I make sure my KRs are ambitious?
  • How do I derive Os and KRs from higher-level strategy blocks?
  • How do I encourage team members to define Os and KRs?

An important finding of the workshop was that working with OKRs changes some roles in the team. If teams are to determine their own goals and actions, what remains for the leadership at the core is a facilitating and motivating role. The methodology of collaboration has to be clear by consensus, at best the team appoints an OKR master to follow the rulebook.

Workshop 2: Deepening and delimitation

The second workshop aimed to sharpen the benefits and strategic importance of OKRs.

  • At what level should OKRs be deployed?
  • In which cycles are the OKRs set?
  • How many OKRs should a team set at the same time?
  • How ambitious should the goals be?
  • Should scoring ("70% target achievement is already good") be used?
  • How do we combine OKRs / KPIs / Health Metrics (e.g. downtime, software legal process)?
  • How do we combine OKRs and projects?
  • How do we encourage cross-team SOCRs / Shared SOCRs.
  • How do we consistently track the progress of our OKRs?

When OKR leaves the framework of a team and spreads further afield, it becomes increasingly important to proceed in a methodologically uniform manner. For Hellmann, this is of particular importance, as the first OKR walking attempts in the company's own IT are followed with interest in other departments of the company and can represent a blueprint for imitators as "best practices".

Workshop 3: Coexistence of OKR and other systems, the human factor

In the third round, the general operating processes and the intersection of OKRs with other management fields and process views were considered. The programmatic working title of this workshop was "Working with OKRs in connected systems and keeping the human success factor in mind". The interaction with other target systems (e.g. from strategic annual goals or project goals) was one of the topics addressed. In comparison with other target systems, it becomes clear that there is also an attitude or philosophy behind "OKR". The consistent identification of the individual employee with his tasks and at the same time with the superordinate target framework promotes motivation and solidarity.

OKR strengthen corporate strategy

Objectives and Key Results as a management framework links the individual tasks of teams and employees with the corporate strategy, plans and vision. The attractiveness of OKRs, especially for larger companies, is that the goals of individual functions or departments always have a reinforcing reference to higher-level goals. Even if the employees in the individual sections set their own goals and measures, they never leave the respective superordinate framework. In this way, OKRs can determine the work of an entire company and are both a management concept and an entry method for committed teams and employees who want to actively shape their work.

After the one-year pilot phase and the in-depth workshops, other teams at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics will be able to apply the method and make their contribution in the future. With a view to a possible international expansion, a self-service (OKR Knowledge Space) has been set up that allows other teams to get started with the topic and build on the experience of the OKR pioneers. The exchange of experience and learning from each other is a priority and is cultivated in cross-team retrospectives, for example.

noventum has supported us in the past with various initiatives. Also this time noventum has impressively proven that it has great experience with the topic OKR. The expertise but also the enthusiasm of the colleagues who accompanied us professionally were crucial for the successful implementation of the workshop series.

noventum consulting

Dr. Matthias Rensing


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