The OKR Review is one of the four major events in the OKR process, along with OKR Planning, OKR Weekly, and OKR Retrospective.
The goal of OKR Reviews
The OKR Review usually takes place at the end of each cycle, in which all teams (including the leadership team) evaluate the final status of their OKRs. The purpose here is to evaluate and analyze, why OKRs were achieved or not achieved. The insights gained can then help teams prioritize better in the future. In addition, OKR Reviews help to find a baseline for the OKRs of the next cycle or to decide whether certain OKRs are still relevant or not.
OKR Review meeting factsheet
⏱ Duration and Frequency
- Prior to OKR Planning and drafting for the next cycle (usually already two weeks before the end of the current cycle, as key learnings are already apparent and thus can be incorporated into the next OKRs).
- 45 - 90 minutes (depending on the team structure and OKR experience of the team)
- All members of a team
- (The OKR coach or OKR Master of the team)
- (Other directly involved stakeholders, if applicable)
Preparation checklist for the OKR Review meeting
To make a review meeting as productive as possible, a few preparations should be made.
- The date should be communicated to participants with enough advance notice to allow everyone to prepare.
- All participants should analyze their respective OKRs prior to the meeting, and reflect on why which objectives were met or not met.
- The review should be conducted according to a pre-set agenda.
OKR Review meeting agenda
The following is a suggested agenda for the OKR Review.
1. Welcome and introduction by team leader or OKR coach
2. Writing down the lessons learned
3. Which OKRs will be carried over to the next cycle?
4. Next steps and summary of lessons learned
1. Welcome and introduction (5 minutes)
Briefly welcome all participants and explain the goal and desired outcome of the OKR Review meeting.
Furthermore, it helps to briefly remind everyone of a few rules:
- The meeting is for the purpose of learning so that everyone can improve in the next cycle. Personal criticism and blame are out of place here.
- All participants should be open and understanding to each other’s comments.
- Make it clear that the scope is only the past cycle.
- Make it clear that it is only about the content of the OKRs and their achievement of objectives, not about the OKR process itself. That’s what the OKR Retrospective is for.
Finally, starting the OKR Review on a positive note sets the mood for the rest of the meeting. Therefore, it can help to start off with a sentence or two about a particular success story.
2. Summary of lessons learned (20 minutes)
In this exercise, the list of objectives is simply gone through from beginning to end. Learnings are written down for each objective. The key results themselves do not need to be listed, as this would just make the list harder to read.
Ask the following questions per objective (or your own if they make more sense for your team):
Participation of the persons responsible
- Was enough time spent on the objective?
- Were the necessary skills and knowledge given to achieve the objective?
- Were effective tactics used to achieve it?
- Were there adequate financial resources?
- Was good judgment demonstrated?
Involvement of third parties
- Did other teams contribute the time required of them?
- Did other teams have the necessary skills and knowledge?
- Did they work effectively with the responsible parties and with others?
- Was good judgment demonstrated?
Relevance of the objective
- Did the objective and its key results remain relevant?
- Did it remain a priority?
- Does the objective still need to be included in the next cycle?
💡 A few notes:
- Use the above questions as inspiration only and don’t feel limited by them.
- In addition, try to find a tangible example from the last cycle for each learning so that it is easier to remember.
- And lastly, try to cut as much as possible and get to the essence. This makes documenting and sharing the learnings with other teams much easier.
3. What OKRs will be taken into the next cycle? (15 minutes)
After working through the OKRs according to the previous exercise, a number of objectives have probably already been identified that will be carried into the next cycle. This can be useful, for example, if OKRs have not been achieved but are strategically important, or if objectives have been achieved and you want to carry them over with updated key results.
At this point, it is important to document a short list and create a common understanding of why the objectives should be included.
This list should then be considered in the OKR Planning for the next cycle.
4. Summary and next steps (20 minutes)
- Brief summary of the findings
- Identify a person to prepare the findings as a short memo to share with others (inside and outside the team)
- Identify who is responsible for any tasks that arose within the OKR Review so that nothing is lost and all information is available for the upcoming OKR Planning and drafting process
Optionally, based on the findings of the OKR Review, a short presentation can also be prepared if the findings are to be presented at a company event or town hall meeting.
The following structure is a good way to do this:
2. What did we do?
3. What did we learn?
A well-managed OKR Review can produce many important benefits and learnings. Firstly, it is essential that every team member is up to speed by the start of the next cycle. This is ensured by individual preparation along with the group discussion and evaluation.
This collective knowledge also serves as a starting point for the formulation of goals for the next cycle. In this way, a climate of continuous improvement is intended to be created. Moreover, if certain goals have not been achieved, they can still be rephrased or adjusted based on the findings from the OKR Review.
And last but not least: an OKR Review at the end of a successful cycle strengthens the team spirit and boosts motivation for the next cycle. With each review, the team becomes more aware that each member is in the same boat and is pursuing the same or similar, higher-level goals.