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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 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.

What?

The output of an outlook session is captured in a One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP, see

), but it is advisable to also take notes ( session log template ) during the session (by the secretary of the circle, or someone else, 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?

Outlooks happen in an annual cycle, which is broken up into three four-month episodes. I.e. semesters. Each episode consists of three months of kicking ass, and one month of reflection, evaluation of the previous episode and setting goals for the next episode. The months for reflection & setting new goals are in May, September and January, with in January special attention to reflecting and re-assessing the whole OPSP.

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

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.

Who?

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

  • For the latest materials see facilitator & secretary materials. Feel free to make a copy and adapt as required for your circle
  • Gather your metrics and make sure they are up-to-date
  • 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
  • It helps if you ask everyone to write a personal reflection/evaluation beforehand, to share during the session

New episode 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 OPSP 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
  • Collect all the metrics
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 of your OPSP under 'Current strategies' in Glassfrog for easy access.