Gremlin Maximizes Remote Collaboration Using OKRs

September 2020


San Jose, California


Computer Software



Using Koan during our meetings has helped us to run our meetings better. Before we used Koan, the meetings tended to be focused on status and discussion- now they tend to be more focused on the outcomes we’re driving, and what is affecting those outcomes.

Jade Rubick

VP of Engineering at Gremlin

Gremlin Maximizes Remote Collaboration Using OKRs 

Gremlin is the world’s first hosted Chaos Engineering service. Chaos Engineering is a relatively new practice that involves the proactive testing (and intentional breaking) of a system to see how it will respond to the stress of unpredictable scenarios with the purpose of increasing the system’s resilience. Founded in 2016 and based out of San Jose, California, Gremlin provides engineers with the necessary tools to strengthen their systems through the secure simulation of outages. Priding themselves on having an ‘ever-growing library of attacks’, Gremlin is a ‘failure-as-a-service’ platform that helps engineering teams to turn failure into resilience.  

Using an OKR Tool to Surface Problems and Develop Solutions

The Gremlin team had used the OKR methodology prior to implementing Koan; however, they had struggled to find a way to make OKR tracking and reporting efficient. Before adopting Koan, they had used Google Docs to create and track their goals, and although it proved to be a useful tool for goal creation, that didn’t hold true for tracking and reporting on OKR progress. Jade Rubick, VP of Engineering at Gremlin, sought a more scalable solution to help his team to stay up-to-date with their OKRs. 

Gremlin instantly aligned with Koan because of the similarities the companies shared, both being SaaS companies that strive to help their customers’ businesses succeed through the proactive approach of identifying issues before they become problems. After trialing, he and his team found that Koan’s OKR and status tool was able to surface more valuable information than they had previously been getting from their OKR process. In contrast to their previous goal process, Koan allowed for the active visualization and tracking of progress on goals, rather than forcing a team to sort and interpret various Key Result metrics. “Koan provides a workflow for us to show how we are making progress, and for surfacing obstacles,” Rubick said. 

As the Gremlin team began to implement Koan, they also found value in the tool’s ability to connect team-level and company-level goals in order to visualize how different departments contribute to the organization’s overall mission and strategy. Rubick explains this saying, “At an executive team level, we can review our company-level OKRs, and see how the team OKRs are influencing the progress of company goals.” This feature helps Gremlin to stay focused on what really matters and keeps the company’s priorities in mind when setting outcome-focused goals. 

Leveraging Software to Improve Alignment and Efficiency Across Distributed Teams

As a remote by default company, Gremlin has especially found value in Koan’s status tool, Reflections. This feature requests all users to asynchronously share their weekly accomplishments with their teammates, as well as to select Confidence Ratings on the key results that they contribute to. Rubick has found that this feature has brought focus and increased communication to his geographically diverse team, “The reflections have been helpful because they allow people to take a moment to really think about how things are going on their teams and on the goals they’re working towards,” he said. The asynchronous nature of Reflections is particularly helpful for Gremlin's remote teams because it allows individuals to have meaningful problem-solving conversations. The Reflections feature not only compensates for the team's inability to collaborate in person, but enables the Gremlin Engineering team to surface and address issues before they become larger goal-interfering problems.

For example, we had one project where an engineer was pointing out an issue with direction on their team. We were able to see the problem, make sure it was addressed, and see that it got better over time. 

Using Confidence Ratings to Drive More Productive and Effective Meetings

In addition to making remote collaboration more streamlined, the Reflections feature has enabled Rubick’s team to have more efficient and effective remote meetings. By automatically collecting Confidence Ratings from all goal contributors on a weekly basis, Koan provides users with an up-to-date living qualitative metric that depicts how likely a goal is to succeed. The Confidence Index score allows Gremlin to have effective meetings because they focus on the OKRs that need the most help. The meeting agenda typically prioritizes discussions around goals that Koan marks as yellow, ‘Has Issues’, or red, ‘At Risk’. Rubick explains how this feature has improved how they run their meetings,

Using Koan helps us to run our meetings better. Before we used Koan, the meetings tended to be focused on status and discussion. Now they tend to be more focused on the outcomes we’re driving, and what is impacting those outcomes, making us more efficient as a team.

Gremlin has seen their OKR process improve quarter after quarter, with Koan helping the team prioritize goals that are outcome-focused, rather than activity-focused. Koan has been an essential resource to help Gremlin achieve organizational alignment and maximize remote collaboration.

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