OKR Methodology – PART 1 – Length, Sequence, Communication

What’s up Forumites!

Asana claims it’s vision includes OKR features within its software (Unveiling the Future of Asana • Asana #LoveIt #CantWait #Excited!) and dedicated OKR software is on the rise (Enterprise Goal Setting & OKR Software - Betterworks) so my questions are relevant. Here are resources I consumed which led to my questions:

DISCLAIMER: I’m 100% aware the answer is often “it depends on context” so that’s NOT what I’m looking for here, instead I’m trying to discovers the principles you all use to make decisions in various contexts. I’m hoping we can discuss actual scenarios that DO call for more black and white/concrete answer or at the very least we could discuss these things with as much granularity as possible to avoid the generic copout answer of “it’s not a perfect science, we’ll never have certainty, etc”. We already know that so hopefully we can drill down to specifics and maximize conversation stimulation for everyone! :blush:


OKR Methodology – PART 1 – Length, Sequence, Communication


On pages.51-2 of the OKR book mentioned above John Doerr states “the best practice may be a parallel, dual cadence, with short horizon OKRs (for here and now) supporting annual OKRs and longer-term strategies. Keep in mind though, it’s the shorter term OKRs that drive the actual work. They keep the annual OKRs honest and executed” and then “the best OKR cadence is the one that fits the context and culture of your business.”

QUESTION#1 : What principles has your company/team chosen to guide their OKR cycle length?

QUESTION#2 : What specific scenarios in your setting require which specific cycle length in your experience?

QUESTION#3 : Do you allow different OKR cycle lengths to overlap, be sequential, or both (ex: an Annual OKR in progress at the same time as Quarterly OKRs under it)? What specific scenarios would you not allow overlapping OKR cycles any why?


Google’s OKR sequence of events (pg.267 of previously mentioned book) involves the following steps:

A. Week 6 to 2 before Q1 (plan Company Level Annual OKRs and Q1 OKRs)
B. Week 2 before Q1 (communicate upcoming Company Level Annual OKR’s and Q1 OKRs)
C. Week 2 to 0 before Q1 (plan Team Level OKRs based on Company Level OKRs)
D. Start of Q1 (communicate Team Level Annual and/or Q1 OKRs)
E. tart of Q1 to Week 1 of Q1 (plan Employee Level Q1 OKRs)
F. Week 1 of Q1 (communicate Employee Level Q1 OKRs)
G. Middle of Q1 (check-in and recalibration if needed)
H. Near end of Q1 or slightly after Q1 (reflect and score/grade Company, Team, Employee Level Q1 OKRs)

QUESTION#4 : In your experience, between steps C and D, do Teams have their own Annual OKRs or just one quarter at a time OKRs? Any specific reasons why it should or should not be policy to have/not have Team Level annual OKRs vs only Company Level annual OKRs?

In terms of step G, said OKR book states:

  • Pg.114 “without frequent status updates, goals slide into irrelevance; the gap between plan and reality widens by the day.”
  • Pg.117 “OKRs don’t require daily tracking. But regular check-ins preferably weekly – are essential to prevent slippage.”
  • Pg.119 “for best results, OKRs are scrutinized several times per quarter by contributors and their managers. On top of these one-on-ones, teams and departments hold regular meeting to evaluate progress toward shared objectives.”
  • Pg.119 “at Google the frequency of team check-ins varies with the business needs of the moment, the gap between predicted outcomes and execution, the quality of intragroup communication, and the groups size and location(s). The more disperse the team’s members the more frequently they touch base. Googles benchmark check-in cycle is monthly at a minimum.”
  • Pg.276 “to sustain high performance, encourage weekly one-on-one OKR meetings between contributors and managers, plus monthly department meetings.”

QUESTION#5 : In your experience how often should both Annual and Quarterly OKRs be updated with scores/grades? What specific business scenarios does more frequent vs less frequently check-in and/or gradings make the most sense in your experience?

Communicating OKRs:

To continue fostering buy-in and focus, consistently communicating OKR seems very important. Yet this is an area of little consensus as far as I can tell for how exactly companies goes about doing this. The previously mentioned OKR book states on pg.275 “Use all-hands meetings to explain why an OKR is important to the organization. Then keep repeating the message until you’re tired of hearing yourself.”

QUESTION#6 : In your experience what methods are best to communicate, and more importantly remind people, of OKR’s across the organization? Just a series of emails? Make them into posters/signs all around the business walls/bathrooms/meeting rooms/etc? How do you most enjoy communicating and reminding people of the goals at hand?


. . . . see Part 2 HERE


Quick intro/disclaimer to our background: We are a team of currently 14 people trying to contribute to save the planet by selling “ugly” fruit and vegetables. Due to the comparatively small team size we adapt very quick to necessary changes and probably follow other strategies than a large and/or typical company would.

Based on our Mission we have set up goals for the next three years. These have been further broken down into 4 major areas that we will focus on in 2020. In the next step our departments went ahead and combined the bottom up goals and plans for the next quarter with those 4 areas.

We try to break the focus areas into chunks that can be handled within three months. In case something couldn’t be achieved in that timeframe but is still relevant it will be proceeded in the next quarter probably combined with new parts. Cycle overlaps to me sound like something that should be avoided since they will interfere with the rest of the process thus creating confusion and/or additional coordination effort.

Q4: Teams only have quarterly OKRs because we want to keep a high level of cross functional engagement through mutualy setting the team OKRs every quarter. This might be different for larger teams.

Q5: Scoring should happen on a weekly basis together with the definition of next steps and the status update. We try to include this in Asana this quarter but still struggle with finding the right structure to visualise all OKRs + Responsibilities and dependencies.


Epic response @Fred_Gold! :slight_smile:

We struggle too to visualize all the OKR’s in Asana but “they” say a dedicated OKR feature is coming out (see their Vision video) so hopefully that’s this year as the beginnings of it seem to be crystalizing with their Milestones feature and Portfolios.