Podcast Ep 143: Toronto-based Irish entrepreneur KJ McGowan turned an epiphany into a real business called Krezzo which is using organisations’ OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to empower employees in their working lives.
KJ McGowan is a young Irish entrepreneur who has built a new cloud business called Krezzo which operates between Toronto and Boston. He talks about how the young business will do for OKRs what Salesforce did for CRM.
For McGowan it’s all about connection. The business world is full of terms like OKRs and KPIs (key performance indicators) but for many disengaged staff these metrics can be meaningless.
“It’s really about operationalising a company’s strategy and goals”
“86% of employees in the US don’t feel like their work contributes to a greater purpose,” he tells me by way of introduction to Krezzo.
“No organization can perform at its best with only 14% of its people rowing in the same direction.
“Conversely, when employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organisation’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and greater financial performance. I co-founded Krezzo [with Stephen Newman] to help people find their purpose through the use of OKRs.”
Via the cloud Krezzo provides a light-weight OKR tracking product designed to make the tasks associated with aligning with OKRs not to feel like homework. An in-built ‘Alignment Engine’ turns mundane check-ins into contextual action items.
Making things happen
Speaking on the ThinkBusiness Podcast, McGowan said: “I think companies really struggle operationalising their strategy and translating it down to employees who are on the front line. A lot of people wake up every morning feeling that their work really isn’t contributing to any greater purpose.
“And that’s the premise of why we started this and, in course, sacrificed a lot in our lives to start a business. But I think it’s really that we want to help people and companies solve that problem of how do you connect people’s work to something greater?
“And how do you translate your strategy into something that’s really understandable and to do that through goal setting.”
Dublin native McGowan met his co-founder while he was in Boston on a graduate visa. “I met him through a company I was working with over there and that just springboarded me into building a network in the US. Boston is a great place to be if you’re Irish and if you want to travel and visit America.”
Once his US visa was up McGowan moved to Toronto but technically Krezzo is a US business with a global outlook. “In fact, we just signed our first Irish customer. We’re using our network to grow this business globally.”
Crucially, he believes Krezzo fits a need that many businesses have struggled to meet: making things happen. “On one level people might assume that it’s just another HR initiative. But it’s more fitting for operational leaders in business and sales roles. It’s really about operationalising a company’s strategy and goals.
“OKRs are a framework that help you to get greater clarity of your priorities and how you’re measured against those priorities. It’s about helping people to set efficient goals and track their company’s performance.”