4 O’s — mapping a project check in

Alastair Somerville
3 min readAug 25, 2022
4 boxes for filling in notes on Outcomes, Outputs, OKR and Opportunities

I was asked to chat to a manager today about where they are in an ongoing project and whether there was any way I could be helpful. I know nothing about the project and very little about the organisation’s processes, methodologies and culture. So I needed a way of framing the short conversation and understanding where they started, where they are and where they are going.

The 4 O’s canvas is just a simple way of mapping out these issues to create a shared sense of alignment and to be able to see where assistance might be valid and valuable.

4 O’s

There are four sections to the canvas. This is what they mean to me.


The project must have had some strategic goal. There must have been outcomes for the organisation and its stakeholders and clients. This is where we start.

What was the project doing?


Most projects make something (and sometimes the project confuses outputs with outcomes) and it is important to know what people are designing and testing. The things (product/service/whatever) are what people generally think of as the main value of the project.

What was project making?


OKR is jargon. It means Objectives, Key Results. It is a methodology used more by technology companies to set up a short list of project goals and some measures for achievement or success. There are other ways of describing them: KPI (Key Performance Indicator) another one, Critical Path Analysis is an old one.

Whatever it is (and really all this canvas is doing is offering jargon as a password to access the actual language used internally), there will be some form of reporting and measuring in the project. I need to have some idea of what as it helps inform what has been achieved and how far along the project is.

How was progress measured?


The final part is Opportunities and this is more of an open question about what has been discovered thru the project that may affect what the Outcomes and Outputs are. This may be a stress point. Perhaps the manager and team know that what needs to be made to meet outcomes is not the output orginally planned. Maybe the outcomes are not the same as originally established as research and protoyping has redefined the team’s understanding of the problems. This space is for those kind of ideas: a pressure valve for a manager feeling trapped by Outcomes, Outputs and OKR. Talking of discoveries and opportunities can help people feel less trapped by such system language and processes.

What discoveries were made?


Printed version of canvas on table

If this canvas might be helful to you then you can download a Pdf from Dropbox:

4 O’s Project Check In Canvas

If you have any questions, please leave a message.

Originally published at https://acuity.design on August 25, 2022.



Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX