How To Create An OKR Cycle – OKRs That Work (Part 5/6)

Dec 11, 2020

In this 6-minute video, learn how to bring the OKR process together. We will go from a goal-setting exercise to making an actual practice that has rhythm and consistency in your organization.

Video Transcription

Built into the OKR methodology is this concept that you are establishing objectives and key results throughout the entire organization. You’re managing the performance against them on a quarterly basis and then you’re setting new ones for the next quarter.

The standard approach is a quarterly cycle. You might want to do something different than that. We’ll talk a little bit about that, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with the standard approach.

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Goal Setting on a Quarterly Cycle

With that in mind, let’s jump in and see what it might look like for you. As we’ve said a couple of times, OKRs are all about aligning an entire organization in a single direction to drive a future state and to drive that strategic direction for your organization. Everything rises and falls on setting those clear corporate priorities, those company-wide priorities. This must happen before anything else happens in the OKR cycle.

Setting priorities normally happens once a year on an annual basis. You might tweak them throughout the year. But in November or December, if you’re on a calendar planning year, you would establish your company-wide priorities, and that, of course, would then turn into company-wide OKRs.

Once those have been determined and published probably through an executive team offsite, that would allow teams and individuals to set their OKRs for their first quarter. You might be setting OKRs for the whole year, particularly objectives, but certainly the key results for Q1 that you’re really committing to.

Implementation & Reporting

We move into implementation the first month at the end of first week of February or the week after the month. You need to report or everybody needs to report on the performance against their KRs in the previous month. That can occur, and that needs to occur in a tool. It needs to be reviewed and talked about in some fashion, like in a one-on-one, as that’s a pretty standard approach, and pretty streamlined, and nice.

That repeats itself in the next month, right? So, now you’re two months in, you’re reviewing your goals and you’re reporting on your progress in whatever tool you’ve selected, and you’re reviewing it with your direct report, or your manager, or whatever, the first or second week of the month. And then in the third month, you’re reviewing the entire quarter, you’re taking a little bit more of a minute to say, “How did we do against what we said we were going to get done for the quarter? And then, how might that help us set the Q2 OKRs or KRs, as the case may be?”

That occurs in an individual fashion and then reviewing it again in a one-on-one setting with your manager or your direct report. All of that gets pulled together in a team executive, or all-staff meeting, depending upon the size of your organization to do a quarterly review.

Quarterly Review

A quarterly review is evaluating, looking back, and visibly showing commitments, what we achieved, what we didn’t, and then sharing new, what are the commitments for the upcoming quarter, and dealing with any misalignments or gaps, that type of thing.

After that, publishing the results to the broader organization, if the whole organization is here, publishing it to your investors or your shareholders, and then repeating this process for the next quarter.

Things to think about with your quarterly review meetings:

  • Is this meeting an existing meeting or new?
    • This meeting is a couple of hours in this particular expression right here. It would be better if it was an existing meeting. So, if it’s your executive team meeting, it would be that meeting in April.
  • Are you doing this monthly or quarterly?
    • So, we’ve already said we’re reporting on progress monthly, so that’s set. But are we reviewing it as a team on a monthly basis or a quarterly basis? There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s going to be longer if it’s quarterly. It’s a little shorter if you do it monthly. We have a lot of clients that instead of reviewing performance in a one-on-one basis, they’re doing it in their executive team meetings every month.

And so, the quarterly meeting is a little bit longer just when we’re establishing the Q2 commitments or the Q2 OKRs. So, you could apply this to monthly versus quarterly, but the same kind of cadence would be in place.

Let’s Talk Strategy

And lastly, when are we talking about strategy? When are we talking about shifts, changes, emerging themes, stuff that’s happening in the environment or the market with our customers? We would advocate that it’s part of this quarterly review. If you’re doing this quarterly, maybe now this is a half-day meeting. If you’re doing it monthly, then we just make this a two-hour meeting instead of an hour meeting.


Okay. So, a couple of tips. We always have tips for you.

  • Report monthly, period.
    • Always, always report monthly. People won’t remember what they’re working on otherwise.
  • It really matters that the executives set the example that you care about the results, and you care about reviewing the results, and that you visibly do so. So, that is what this is. Otherwise, it’s just an administrative exercise.
  • Don’t skip.
    • We’re trying to create a cadence, a cycle, a practice, and a ritual for your organization. So, don’t skip. Commit to it and don’t skip.
  • And lastly, don’t forget to publish the results.
    • If everybody’s in the meeting, okay, that’s fine. Publish it more externally like we already said. But it’s super important to publish results. And if you have a broader organization, sometimes you need to remove some of the more sensitive information, and that’s okay. But the consistent communication of progress against where the organization is going is so powerful.

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