top of page

Quick Learn: Business Outcome (OKR) writing

Are you looking for more value from your initiatives, programmes and projects? Do you wish more of the effort, creativity and determination of your teams could be translated into business progress?

This simple exercise enables everyone to understand, measure and improve the identification and delivery of value.

Exercise: Write a Business Outcome (OKR)

The value associated with unique change is best articulated as business outcome hypothesis. These are also known as Objectives and Key Results or OKRs. The word 'hypothesis' intentionally creates a clear expectation that the outcome may be invalid, that there are unknown-unknowns that can only be uncovered when the work takes place. It creates a clear expectation that experimentation is required, with teams empowered to use their own brains to discover how to best make progress and to what extent the hypothesis is worth continuing trying to achieve.


You can write an outcome hypothesis like this:

  • Due to < this insight >

  • We believe that  < this capability >

  • Will result in < this outcome >

We will know that we’re on the right track when :

  • Measure 1: quantified and measurable leading or lagging indicator 

  • Measure 2:

  • Measure 3:

To aid the writing of your first business outcome, use the canvas below. On a whiteboard draw out and label the 4 sectors with the circle in the middle. For an outcome you are seeking to achieve, and using the canvas below for guidance, start to populate each sector with information. It does not matter which sector you start in and you can iterate each sector as your thinking develops.


Open Miro template or Download Outcome Canvas Template


Over time, as mastery increases, consider writing business outcomes as moonshots, as stretch goals. Traditional objective setting tends to lead to mediocrity, to under promising in order to over achieve the goal. Achieving 100% regularly is not thinking big enough. Instead, achieving 60% to 70% of a business outcome is doing well. 


Hints and Tips:

Which quadrant did you find the hardest to complete?

  • If you found the Problem Statement the hardest to articulate it is probably too broad: reflect on why this outcome is desired and what insight data might provide evidence and allow refinement

  • If you found the Hypothesis the hardest to fill in : you probably need to spend more time in the Problem Statement quadrant

  • If you found the middle of the Customer segment hardest to complete : think about who's behaviour actually needs to change in order for the outcome to be fabulously successful

  • If you found the Leading Indicators the hardest to fill in : think more about the nature of those behaviour changes and how they might be detected

  • How many measures have you got in practice? Probably more than 5 initially. What can you really measure? What matters most initially? We recommend selecting no more than 3 to 5.

Questions to reflect on:

  1. For this outcome – how will you decide when your outcome is achieved?  Is it based on a date, a scope, budget spent or something else?

  2. What is the time horizon you chose for your outcome?  (see pattern 5 in Sooner Safer Happier by Jonathan Smart)


Further information:

YouTube from Jonathan Smart about OKRs:

YouTube from Jeff Patton about Outcomes:

Want to learn from practical examples how to
implement outcomes in your own work?

If you would like to know more about OKRs, contact us for private workshops for you and your team.
bottom of page