The OKR Cycle: Retrospective

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The OKR Cycle: Retrospective

You’ve just had a great quarter.  You realize some people have embraced OKRs and others haven’t.  Some people are frustrated because they found it difficult to measure their OKRs weekly. Others have mentioned how it helped them stay on track. You’ve learned a lot during this quarter, and it feels like you made some excellent progress. 

But how are you going to make sure the next quarter is even better? It is time for you to do a retrospective and reset your OKRs for the new quarter.

Some of you may be very familiar with the concept of Retrospective – it is a familiar event in the agile process. It is the third stage of the OKR cycle after strategic planning and execution. Retrospective, as you might have guessed, is a small exercise to reset and rinse. You celebrate your successes and identify your failures so that you can have an even impressive next quarter.

Why Quarterly OKR Retrospective?

An OKR cycle is an agile, iterative process that keeps on quarter after quarter. The quarterly Retrospective provides your team with enough time to meet the set goals and objectives and identify the problem areas.

If anything is not working right, you don’t have to wait for a year or so to bring it to notice. A quarterly retrospective acts as the platform wherein you can assess your team’s performance. It is less about the end score achieved but focused more on the key learnings that your team will take to the next quarter.  Retrospectives also create a more open, trusting culture where employees are not afraid to take risks.

A quarterly retrospective enables organizations, departments, teams, and individuals to excel at implementing OKRs, drive results based on the previous quarter’s learnings, and plan for the next. Thus, you get better at determining the best possible outcome for the next quarter.

Facilitating an OKR Retrospective

When you are facilitating a retrospective, keep it slow yet straightforward. Devote more time than a monthly review. Aim for at least 1.5 hours, or more, if needed.

Ideally, you can divide the time allocated to facilitate the Retrospective into three slots of 30 minutes dedicated to celebrating, observing, and improving, respectively.

Stay Focused Around OKR

OKR Retrospectives should be a dedicated time to review the results of the previous quarter’s OKRs.  Stay focused around OKRs by appointing an individual(s) to facilitate the discussion and keep everyone on track.

It is essential to stay focused on OKR and work towards achieving the set objectives.

OKR Retrospective Questions

When you reflect on the quarter, it is essential to find answers to specific questions to ensure your organization is heading in the intended direction. Asking the right questions provides you with the correct answers to steer your OKR strategy for the next quarter.

Here are some questions you should seek answers of:

  • Did our set objectives successfully capture the team’s intent and direction for the quarter?
  • Were we able to achieve key results? Was the bar set too high or too low? Did we measure our results correctly?
  • Were we adequately organized to achieve and execute the results week over week?
  • Are there any internal and external dynamics that changed over the quarter? Will this affect the results of the next quarter?

Leadership Checklist

To ensure that your OKR retrospective meets the expected goals, here is a quick checklist you should stick to:

  • Schedule the quarterly Retrospective just at the right time. Typically, one or two weeks before the end of the respective quarter.
  • Ensure all managers are on the same page in terms of their responsibility towards OKR. One easy way to do so is by distributing the agenda for advanced preparation.
  • Ensure that the Retrospective is conducted at all organization levels, starting from teams to departments and executives.
  • Celebrate your successes, however small they are, company-wide.
  • Trigger the reset process and kickstart the strategic planning process for the next quarter.

Typical Out-Takes From an OKR Retrospective

Celebrating OKR Success

Celebrating OKR success is essential to imbibe a sense of accomplishment in your team members and motivating them to deliver even better results in the next quarter.

Here are all the insights you can gather form a successful OKR:

  • The process was well-received by the employees.
  • The process aligns the team correctly and sparks the right conversations across teams.
  • Enhance conversations between managers and team members.
  • Sustain focus on consistent goals throughout the quarter.
  • The mindset to achieve even more

Observations & Learning from Losses

As necessary as it is to celebrate success, it is equally essential to identify the weak points and frame a strategy to rectify them in the upcoming quarter.

Here are a few points to focus on:

  • Set up a weekly results management discipline with an aim to improve results and outcomes.
  • Adopt a more inclusive approach while setting OKRs, and seek participation from all involved entities, including developers, businesses, and teams.
  • Set up a communication framework on the importance of OKRs and operating cadence to track results efficiently.
  • Get smarter and more experiential to measure what you should and what you can.
  • Identify KR owners early.

Areas for Improvement

Once you have identified the weak areas, it is time to introduce appropriate team improvements to excel.

Here is how you can do that:

  • Focus on fewer KRs
  • Streamline updates and make way for integrations.
  • Enhance transparency in the system, and openly discuss OKRs during meetings.
  • Identify misalignments and adopt measures to eliminate them.
  • Develop more discipline to make your team stick to the OKRs weekly – recognize any risks, and get rid of roadblocks early.
  • Encourage open communication.

Questions to Ask Yourself About OKR Progress

  • How effective our KR had been? A too high score means that the set objectives were not aspirational enough. Too low means that the efforts put in were not enough.
  • Did our objectives truly capture the set goals for the quarter?
  • Was everyone included and give their best?
  • Did OKR lead to the change in our culture and dynamics?
  • Was the measurability of KRs clear?
  • Did we focus on the wrong KRs?
  • Where and why you fell short in achieving the outcomes?


As you can see, conducting a retrospective meeting provides you with hidden insights on where your company is facing, helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and provides you with a solid start to the next quarter.

To see how OKRs can impact your company and right retrospectives can make way for better results, schedule a free consultation with us. Contact us to learn more.

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