Connect with us


Disrupting Fintech From The Top-Down and Bottom-Up With OKRs



Matt Roberts

Disrupting a sector like Fintech does not happen by accident. It happens by design. Disruption is nearly always an act of intent. You see a valuable established market with dysfunction and you look to improve it. The genesis for disruption is often one unifying goal, and for technology companies, that usually means an OKR – Objective and Key Results.

There’s about a 70% chance that you’re reading this post using a Chrome browser. But, did you know that when Chrome was just getting off the drawing board at Google, it started life as an OKR?

Objective: Develop the next-generation client platform for web applications

Key Result: Chrome reaches 20 million seven-day active users

Nearly every team could look at this and know where the company is going. They could start to work out how best to help the team succeed. These cross-functional discussions are happening every quarter where teams discuss what the few game-changing OKRs should be. These goals sit outside the normal business-as-usual. The bottom-up part of OKR planning.

This drive to bring more purpose and greater empowerment and autonomy is central to OKRs. If you want to disrupt a big market with huge competitors and high-performing teams, then use a goal-setting framework like OKR. These teams are highly collaborative, agile, productive, and innovative. They are not a luxury; they are table-stakes.

Aligned Goals

OKRs that would align with the Objective above are highly likely to be cross-functional. Each department would be involved in planning. If you’re launching a new product — that takes a cross-functional effort. You’ll look at every quarter and discuss whether an OKR should be carried over.

OKRs are more than just aligned Objective and Key Results

It’s a common misconception that OKRs are just about learning to write an objective and matching it with 1 – 4 Key Results that align with other Objectives and Key Results. If you’re good at using OKRs you understand the small details that unlock their hidden superpowers.

Total Clarity With OKRs

If you’ve planned OKRs well, you will have clarity on a few game-changing goals and will have imagined what success would look like. You will then commit to achieving them—the more focused, which means the fewer goals you have, the better.

If you’re trying to describe your business-as-usual as OKRs or shoehorn every KPI you track into a Key Result, it has gone wrong. When you get up in the morning, they should never wonder what the company and team have committed to achieving.

Different teams, roles, and responsibilities in the business will be involved in OKRs in any one quarter. Of course, you have named owners and collaborators, but you might also have different people doing initiatives to deliver the outcomes you’ve specified. If in Legal and launching a new product that needs Terms and Conditions, you know what when needed, you’ll drop what you’re doing to help achieve the committed OKR.

Having a shared sub-set of KPIs called Health Metrics (meaning the health of the company) will help for clarity. These tell you and everyone else how a team is performing. OKRs can then be hyper-focused on the areas of most value. The company’s business-as-usual performance is measured by these metrics. If any of them become an issue or opportunity, perhaps they will become an OKR focus going forward.

Genuine Ambition

There’s something about hard to achieve goals that help most of us perform better. It’s the science of goal setting. The benefits of being stretched are:

  • Creating a greater focus on the most relevant activities
  • Prolong effort for a greater amount of time
  • Stimulating learning, collaboration and innovation

Taken to the extreme, this ambition becomes a Moon Shot, but the default for OKR is just ‘Hard.’ If goals are hard to achieve, you also need to redefine success. The idea that 100% is not necessarily the desired end-state is at first odd. The sweet spot, when targets have been well-calibrated, is somewhere around the 70% mark. Much less, and perhaps there were issues, much more, and perhaps you were not ambitious enough.


Once you’ve defined OKRs, cadence and communication are what drives the outcomes. Weekly check-ins become the flywheel of achievement. Priorities, progress and problems are shared for the week ahead. Check-ins show accountability, collaboration, dependability and productivity. It will enhance the ongoing commitment to your desired end-state.

Performance Culture

If you’re going to have honest debates about what priorities should be, if you are going to be genuinely ambitious, if you’re going to work cross-functionally as well as in your teams, if you’re sometimes playing a lead role and sometimes supporting. You’re going to work in an agile way, sharing priorities and problems as you go; you need to have the right culture.

Embracing and embedding OKRs improves culture through time; even if to start with, it just points out where the issues are. Cultural pillars like accountability, collaboration, Psychological Safety, and learning and development will become central to everything you do.

The behaviors and habits that define how the company works, how managers and teams behave, and how the day-to-day happens are the glue that will hold everything together as you move from scale-up to unicorn.

It’s A Journey

If you’re looking to disrupt the establishment, try using OKRs. It takes a few quarters to make OKRs cultural, and there will be bumps in the road and mistakes might be made. However, once you’ve got the framework in your toolbox and culture, the only limit to your success becomes your level of ambition and willingness to fall short occasionally.

Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts is SaaS founder. He helps ambitious companies push through the OKR adoption curve with software and training at ZOKRI.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

Continue Reading


Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

Continue Reading


UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2021 Seminole Press.