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How to create amazing OKR with an OKR canvas

Create amazing OKR with an OKR canvas

Why an OKR Canvas?

The process of guiding a team through the crafting of OKR can be a daunting prospect. If you are a Product Owner, Scrum Master, Agile Coach or similar, and you are not confident with the OKR process, this canvas can help you.

I’ve had great success with similar canvas such as the Business Model Canvas to create alignment, focus and patience during conversations that can wildly diverge. A canvas can provide a focal point to help steer conversations and direct a group to action. 

Our OKR canvas is being used regularly by trainers and coaches and as such will undergo evolution and change. When you download the canvas provide your email address so we can update you when the next version arrives. 

The canvas is in PDF format for physical facilitation or a Miro link for virtual facilitation. 

Get your FREE OKR canvas

Download it here

What is the value of an OKR Canvas?

When working with organisations to implement or improve OKRs, we will eventually get to the nitty-gritty of crafting them for a particular domain or team within the organisation.

We always face the challenge of getting a group of people to a common starting point and then moving them at pace through the process whilst maintaining a conversational divergence that is not stifled by hierarchy or internal politics.

What’s needed here is a facilitation tool that will allow the group to rapidly create or improve on a shared language, create space to challenge assumptions and innovate with greater confidence, all while remaining aligned to the organisational, domain or team strategy. This is where the OKR Canvas comes in to provide the rails guiding sessions of this nature.

If there are systemic issues in regards to OKRs in your organisation, have a look at our series on implementing OKRs to identify additional practical advice and guidance.   

How do I use the 1ovmany OKR canvas?

If you are an OKR coach, facilitator, champion or other such OKR leader the canvas should be able to help you support conversations at any level of the business. The canvas moves participants across four broad areas of discussion. It’s not expected that one session would cover all parts; it might take a few sessions with a team to get to a complete state.

The canvas comes with quite detailed facilitation guidance, but here I will go over how each of the key sections of the canvas are to be used to give an idea of its usefulness for a given team.

1
Section one: Orientating around the organisational or department strategy.

The purpose of this first section is to bring context to the team of the wider organisational purpose. The team’s efforts should be contributing to those of the wider organisation, even if indirectly.

In many organisations, everyone from leadership down will often struggle to explain the mission or vision of the organisation or explain what objectives are important to it and how progress toward them is measured. So, our OKR Canvas places this element of communication as the first area to be discussed and clarified. The team is then able to identify how they add value to this, so they are clear on the vital contribution they make.

If you’re reading this as leader within your community and dread off-sites to define strategy we recommend reading Off-sites that work

2
Section two: Challenges, blockers and aspirations.

In this part we look to the team to elucidate what they are aspiring to achieve for the organisation during the next OKR period, as well as what challenges they see themselves facing (things they can overcome) and the potential blockers preventing their success(things they are powerless against). We also want to surface any key stakeholder considerations that are going to be important in the coming period.

These items together should give a good intuitive picture of what the team thinks it should be dealing with over the coming OKR period. This area should “feel” like it fits in with the section on the left detailing the higher organisational purpose and objectives.

3
Section three: Insights and supporting data.

Before we craft the final OKRs it is necessary to gather any supporting data, KPI insights and lessons learnt from the previous period. Wherever possible, we want to choose the OKRs for the coming period which have data or evidence suggesting they will have the impact expected.

It is important that this happens after part 2 (where the team throw many items into the ring). This is because we want to diverge over options before converging on solutions. It’s important to explore this space and to understand what assumptions and bias are present within the team, then once we have captured our thoughts on our challenges, our blockers and what we want to achieve, we can then compare that to any data and lessons learnt. We might be looking for whether we see high levels of similarity with the previous period, and what new factors have come into play, as well as what might have been missed. A team armed with all this, having robust discussion, should be able to choose good objectives for the coming period.

4
Section four: Your OKRs

After much discussion, argument, and compromise from section 3, the team should approach convergence on a set of OKRs that it will commit to for the coming period. The completed canvas should allow you to tell the story of your OKRs, justifying the investment they represent, and demonstrating a balanced portfolio of outcomes and implied work (remember that a healthy balance will trade off innovation and experimentation, operational and technical debt repayment, and delivery of ongoing features and product improvements).

Summary

We hope you find the OKR canvas a useful device for facilitating OKR crafting sessions. Please try it out and feel free to give us your feedback. We’d love to hear how you found using it and if there is room for improvement.

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Want to find out more about OKRs?

OKR Impacts & gotchas
This article is the first in our series of three that tells you what you need to consider if you want to make a success of implementing OKRs. 
Preparing your leadership

Challenges you may meet at both senior and junior levels of leadership and some approaches to dealing with them.

OKR assessment 

Find out if your organisaion is  prepared and ready to adopt OKRs.

OKR Canvas
A canvas that will help you and your teams create, refine and complete your OKRs.
OKR ImplementationOKR Training

Mike Horwath

Mike is a co-founder of 1ovmany where he leads the company in the area of business strategy and transformation, notably in the realms of OKRs, product, and organisational purpose and design as well as agile software delivery.

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