Quick Learn

Quick Learn: Outcome Canvas

Do you feel dissatisfied with results of initiatives, programmes and projects? Many team members and managers we speak with are frustrated that their effort, creativity and determination fails to translate into business progress. This simple exercise enables everyone to understand, measure and improve the identification and delivery of Value.

Exercise: An Outcome Hypothesis

This exercise helps you to understand how to measure and continually improve Value. 


The value associated with unique change is best articulated as outcome hypotheses (also known as Objectives and Key Results or OKRs). This creates a clear expectation that it is a hypothesis and may be invalid, and that there are unknown-unknowns that will only be uncovered when the work takes place. It also creates a clear expectation that experimentation is required, with people empowered to use their own brains to discover how to best achieve or even if the outcome 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.


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, try refining the information you have.
  • If you found the Hypothesis the hardest to fill in you probably need more insight data.
  • If you found the middle of the Outcome Hypothesis hardest to complete you probably need more data.
  • If you found the Leading Indicators the hardest to fill in you probably need more customer insights.
  • How many measures have you got in practice? We recommend no more than 3 to 5 at the same time.

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:

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