At the start of 2020, they made the switch to using 7Geese for their Objective and Key Results (OKRs) and performance management and are enjoying exemplary adoption rates on all of their programs.
The unique thing about FullStory is that they were already immersed in the OKRs methodology and wanted to streamline and formalize their process, moving away from the system of spreadsheets they were relying on.
FullStory’s OKR challenge: scaling their existing good habits
“We actually had a very strong foundation in OKRs,” says Jaclyn Spangler, FullStory’s Chief of Staff. “In the early days, we were good at OKRs and the whole team was well calibrated.” As the company grew, however, explaining the OKRs methodology and onboarding new team members became cumbersome with a spreadsheet-based process.
“As we grew over the last several years, we added a lot of people,” says Jaclyn. “One thing that we found was challenging was communicating the philosophy of OKRs over and over. It was difficult to get people to understand how to write a good key result, how to write a good objective, and how to think about goals in an autonomous workplace.”
FullStory’s new team members were enrolled in an onboarding program they call “Flight School,” that helped lead them through the company’s mission and protocols. “We found that trying to understand the entire philosophy of OKRs in your first or second week at a brand new company didn’t fit into a 30 or 60 minute training session.”
They needed a way to allow new FullStorians to experience OKRs while also learning about them. Opening a giant, unwieldy spreadsheet didn’t provide enough context. Additionally, as the spreadsheet grew, fewer people were able to participate in the OKR process because they were trying to limit the number of lines of data or teams that were splintering into their own spreadsheets.
Using 7Geese’s OKRs software and support tools to help team members plot their own course
Jaclyn had reviewed a number of other tools before discovering and making the decision to use 7Geese. “I was only a few days away from making a different decision,” says Jaclyn. And then a coworker forwarded her an email from a member of our sales team. “I started taking a look. It solved the problems I was looking to solve and didn’t introduce a bunch of new ones like some other tools would have,” says Jaclyn. “I was very happy to find 7Geese. It jives with our company’s philosophy and how we think about work. Any software that you implement is going to change something about your culture and the way you operate. You have to be sure you’re optimizing for the right things when you adopt new technology.”
It wasn’t just the functionality of the tools, but also the support resources that helped FullStory adopt the software so successfully. “7Geese shared a SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) file with us that we loaded into our Learning Center,” says Jaclyn. “Now we can assign that class to new hires so that their Flight School ‘Introduction to OKRs’ is much more interactive and self-paced. The training is much better than our old, static slides.”
Systems that work, even in a remote-work world
Before the onset of the pandemic, FullStory was already several months into their adoption of 7Geese. Luckily, they were also no strangers to remote work.
“We were about 25% remote before COVID,” says Jaclyn. “And we were always trying to be a remote-friendly company — that was a key objective we’ve had for several years. We wanted everyone in the company, if they were here at our headquarters in Atlanta or elsewhere, to be able to understand what was being focused on in the business and how they mapped to those goals.”
That foresight paid off for them, better preparing them for the changes all companies were being forced to make in mid-March of 2020. “We had a pretty smooth transition, notwithstanding that people’s lives are disrupted and it’s really hard to work from home with kids and dogs, etc. 7Geese being there was really helpful because everyone already had access and everyone already knew where to go find what we’re working on as a company. Now that we’ve realized it works for us, we’re shifting toward being remote forever. We still have a headquarters in Atlanta, but we’re probably not going to require people to come back if they prefer working from home. As we expand into different continents and have more timezones to deal with, we need to be sure we can communicate goals without having to get everyone on a live all-hands meeting to talk about OKRs. It is great to have 7Geese so they can self-serve and understand what the company is working on. That’s been really helpful.”
Staying the course and looking to the future
Since they made the switch to 7Geese in early 2020, most all of FullStory’s 200+ team has checked into an objective and the majority has also recorded one-on-one meetings in the system as well. In line with our expert advice on remote performance reviews, they also went ahead with their usual semi-annual performance management process, even while they were adjusting to being fully remote. “We did feel it was still important to remember why you’re here and remember how you have the opportunity to grow and where you can start to focus for the future.”
“We have the foundations of the philosophy already. 7Geese is solving the mechanics for us and it has been really valuable in that way. We didn’t realize we were going to be a remote-first-forever company when we adopted 7Geese. Now that we are leaning into that, it’s time to figure out how to keep the pulse on people and make sure that people are happy and healthy and speaking up if they need to.”
Automation and peace-of-mind for people operations
Jaclyn shared an anecdote about a particular metric of success she was able to achieve with 7Geese: peace-of-mind.
“One thing I was particularly trying to solve for is the fact that I was running the OKR process, but I was constantly feeling like there shouldn’t need to be a person who runs OKRs. I wanted to take myself out of the middle of the process so that people could feel empowered to figure it out on their own. Having a tool was useful for that.”
“Recently, I was on vacation and completely unreachable for the first week of the quarter while the company was planning OKRs. Our leadership team was able to successfully roll out Q3 OKRs in 7Geese, communicate them to the company, and get department leaders and ICs to align their own OKR goals in the tool. The automated Programs feature in 7Geese was pinging the correct people at the correct time and the company was off and running on Q3 goals once I returned from vacation. So that’s my big success story — the CEO ran the OKR cycle without me there!”