A short summary on "How to Outlook"

This is a summary, for a full background, history, details of the outlook process, see here.

Why Outlook sessions?

We deeply believe in autonomy and autonomous teams, but some collective focus and alignment is necessary to achieve overarching goals. The overall purpose of the company and the company Strategy is not always enough to achieve this, especially in the short term. Outlook sessions are a way to help the Circle Leads (or other role, if distributed away) to set strategies for their circles while considering the bigger picture.

Strategies are an important part of the way any Role set priorities. This is what the Holacracy Constitution says about this (Duty of Prioritization) :

  • When choosing what to work on in a Role, you must consider any official Strategies or relative prioritizations of that Role, of any Circle holding that Role, and of any Super-Circle thereof. You must then treat these official priorities as more important to the Organization than your own individual priorities or your own judgment of the Organization's priorities. Official priorities of a Circle are those defined by a Circle Lead (or by any other Roles or processes with the authority to resolve priority conflicts and define Strategies for that Circle).

When not?

Outllook & Evaluation Sessions are optional tools. As a Circle Lead you can decide that organising Outlook Sessions is not the right tool for helping you create a strategy or setting priorities. This could e.g. be the case if priorities for doing work are governed by other tools (e.g. a roadmap) or if priorities for doing work are for the most part set by the priorities of the super-circle.


The output of an Outlook session is captured in Notion Outlook meeting notes (A Notion Template can be found in the 👩🏽‍🏫Facilitation & secretary tools). It’s advisable to take notes of this meeting during the Outlook session. This can be done in the Notion page created through the template. Notes can be taken by the secretary of the circle, or (complemented) any other meeting participant (because it is hard to take notes and actively participate in the discussion at the same time).

To create alignment, sub-circles inherit some parts of the outlook from their super-circles: the core values, inspiring goal, 3-year targets and picture (when applicable), 1-year goals/key initiatives/critical number (when applicable) and the episode projects that are relevant to the circle. Of course, you can always add to whatever you inherit, time/energy/skills permitting. The more specific a sub-circle is, the better they know the how, so it’s worth discussing that for the stuff you inherit.

When an Outlook part is inherited, there’s no need to discuss that part in the Outlook, unless circle specific details do need to be added.

The Output of the Outlook process generally includes a list of Projects that you as a circle want to work on in the next Episode. Note that the Project life-cycle is independent from the Outlook process life-cycle (and that in general, it is recommendable to scope projects so that they are way shorter than the Outlook episode).


Outlooks happen in an annual cycle. Halfway we are reflecting and evaluating whether our initiatives (e.g. projects) are helping us move closer to accomplish our mission/vision.

The Outlooks and evaluations are held bi-annually. Each period is called an Episode. The Episodes are not distributed evenly, since we do want to account for Summer and christmas Holiday Periods:

  • The first Outlook Period therefore starts in January, and last around 5 months
  • The Second Outlook Period therefore starts in June, and lasts approximately 7 months

When to plan the session for your circle:

Because your circle most likely inherits some things from the super circle, the session for your circle should be planned after the session of the super circle. For evaluations it’s the reverse, plan those before the evaluation of the super circle, so you can share the results. So, an example:

Evaluations : 42 > Customer Happiness > Voys United > GCC

We deeply believe in autonomy and autonomous teams, but some collective focus and alignment is necessary to achieve overarching goals. The overall purpose of the company is not always enough to achieve this, especially in the short term. Outlook sessions are a way to help the Circle Leads (or other role, if distributed away) to set strategies for their circles while considering the bigger picture.

New outlook: GCC > Voys United > Customer Happiness > 42.

NOTE: From experience: it can be a major pain to juggle all the calendars so plan well in advance and it might be necessary to plan over regular meetings. It’s only a few times per year so this shouldn’t be a big deal.


It is up to the Circle Lead to decide who to invite for the sessions, but keep in mind that ~8 people is a nice-but-still-workable maximum. More people is not always better. A good starting point is to invite at least the Circle Leads of the sub circles in your circle, and the Circle Reps too, if the number of people allows for that. Try to get a diversity of perspectives (multiple backgrounds/disciplines).

Don’t forget to invite a facilitator and a secretary to take notes.

Evaluation sessions

  • During an evulation session you Reflect on the last episode. The Objectives of an evaluation session, include to:
    1. Surface Valuable lessons in the form of outcomes, customer insights, and business intelligence, helping us gauge the tangible impact of our initiatives (and whether change of strategy might be needed)
    2. Get clarity on how we did during the last episode
    3. Identify improvements for the next episode
    4. Surface information valuable for the supercircles prioritization, or
    5. 👉Gather information for the Circle Lead

  • For the latest materials see facilitator & secretary materials. Feel free to make a copy of the Evaluation Meeting Notes template and adapt it as required for your circle
  • A facilitator might not be necessary for the evaluation, but that’s up to you
  • Take notes so you can use the output in your next outlook session, and so the Circle Rep can share the results with the super circle
  • Schedule 90-120 minutes for the evaluation
  • Gather your metrics beforehand and make sure they are up-to-date
  • On input to the Evaluation: If Projects were scoped small enough to have ended before the Evaluation Session (as recommended), the projects that ended should have had separate evaluations (Project EvaluationsProject Evaluations). The parts of the project evaluation that are relevant to the Circle Strategy should be part of the evaluation session input.
  • Evaluations are a perfect place to stand still and reconsider if the metrics that you use are still good enough or helpful
  • On Output from the Evaluation:
    • The strategically relevant parts of the Circle Evaluation must be brought to the Evaluation of the Super Circle by the Circle Lead (or optionally the Circle Rep, if that accountability is added to this role).
    • Check out the “Subcircle findings & Project Evaluations (Summary)” part of the Notion Evaluation template for the format in which the Circle Lead needs to bring this output
  • It helps if you ask everyone to write a personal reflection/evaluation beforehand, to share during the session.
  • The facilitator & secretary materials page also contains a template invite / Slack message for Evaluation Preparation

New episode Outlook sessions

  • For the latest materials see facilitator & secretary materials. Feel free to make a copy and adapt as required for your circle
  • Tip: discuss the session beforehand with the facilitator, so they know what to pay extra attention to etc.
  • Make a copy of the Notion template and fill in what you can (from the previous outlook, things you inherit etc) already before the session & share with your circle so people have time to think about it
  • Some circles also use the OPSP template (One Page Strategic Page) and/or the Policy-X Template. These tools help creating overview or properly connect goals/metrics and projects. You’re free to use these additions if you feel the need.
  • Schedule 2-4 hours for the session, depending on how much needs to be done and the size of the circle. Plan for frequent breaks (every 75 minutes or so) and pick a space with plenty of space, a screen, whiteboard, stickies, pens, comfy temperature etc. Maybe outside the office?) Snacks are recommended. For remote/virtual sessions, there is a jamboard template in the facilitator & secretary tools overview.
  • Ask people to come prepared, read the previous outlook, write down their own ideas etc. There’s a Slack invite template in the facilitator & secretary tools overview.
  • Circle Leads: prepare a short presentation about the outlook of the super circle. You can also share this before the session (so people can process)
  • Some circles have had good experience to have a separate vision session before the outlook, to discuss the bigger questions. Consider if this might be helpful for your circle
  • Outlooks are an ongoing process. The emphasis is on the session but that doesn’t mean all the ideas/input has to be thought of, invented, processed, discussed and decided upon in only a few hours time. You can do a lot beforehand, and the more often you do this the easier it becomes.
  • Remember that the process is there to help the circle, and it is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so tweak as desired (in collaboration with the facilitators so they can also learn and iterate on the process), as long as you keep the overall goal of focus and alignment in mind.

Outlook aftercare

  • During a session some tensions might arise that are best solved in another tactical/governance meeting, but write them down so you remember them
  • Right after the session: process projects in Glassfrog and/or Notion, create metrics in Quicksight and work out the session log & OPSP and share it with other circles!
  • Remember that focus is mostly about NOT doing things, so prioritize your work according to the outlook outcomes.
  • Put a link to your Outlook or Evaluation output under 'Current strategies' in Glassfrog for easy access.
  • Put a link to your Outlook or Evaluation output in this directory: