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Smart goals

Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; Time-bound

SMART Goals | What are they…

SMART is a methodology used for setting goals. It ensures goals set are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. This provides structure and supports both operational and project effectiveness.

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Tip!

So why bother? Being clear from the outset on the objectives will save a significant amount of time than out further down the road. These also help you to stay on track after all “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there”

SMART Goals | The Elements

Specific

The less clear a goal is the more difficulty you will have defining the requirements for the goal and importantly whether or not the goal has been delivered; which after all is the objective of setting a goal!

To help crafting a specific statement think of the W’s:

  • Who (is going to do it)
  • What (is going to be done)
  • When (is it going to be done by)
  • Where (is it going to be done)
  • Why (are we doing it)
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Example

Generic Goal: To deliver great service

Specific: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our products

Measurable

“if we don’t know what we’re aiming for we can’t hit it”. Good measures are binary – for example a yes-no or a number

Again clarity is king here. The more clear the measures are the easier it is to hone in on those measures and achieve. Consequently, we  must ensure that we can measure the outcome.  Think again of being specific and way from generic statement “I want to be Rich!” – define what Rich is… so rather than “I want to be Rich” – I want to have £1m – anything below £1m is not achieved anything above is.

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Example

Before Measurable applied: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of our value brand product (though this is measurable any result above even 0.0001 is a success, is that really what we are after?)

Measurable: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our products by 85%

Achievable

No one wants to feel like they are set-up to fail. SMART goals should make everyone feel like they are winners and along the way they become mini-winners when smaller items are complete.

It needs to be possible that the goal is achievable within the given environment – being possible doesn’t mean easy… it means it can be done.

Achievable needs to drive the right balance between aspiration and stretch without purely being a set of wants or wishes

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Example

Before Achievable applied: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our products by 85% (Depending on your situation 85% could be an achievable score, in some cases may even be too low)

Achievable: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our products by 15%

Relevant

Relevant ensures the the goal is related to the outcomes being sought by the company or project so is tied into wider objectives. For example a football team doesn’t create a goal to put a man on the moon.

Relevance is an element that may need to be re-visited. The environment may have moved on and even a excellently crafted smart goal may no longer be relevant; re-evaluate and if needed change the goal!

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Example

Before Relevant applied: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our products by 15% (As with the Achievable example this is really down to the organisation and the current operating environment as to whether or not this is relevant. Being a customer metric it is highly likely that it would meet relevance)

Relevant: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our Value brand products by 15% (In this example the organisation had a particular push on its value proposition so time and effort were expanded in this space)

Time-bound

All of the above is then wrapped in a time frame. So to conclude we don’t just say we want to improve something we say when we want to see that improvement by. Depending on the goal the time can be short term – by tomorrow or long-term – 2 years away. It is often the case that a goal is broken down into manageable phases and so is likely to consist of short, medium and long-term aspirations. This also helps to drive delivery and motivation as items are ticked off as we go.

And as all the elements are inter-related we ensure that the time we associate to achieving the goal is achievable and specific.  

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Example

Before Time-bound applied: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our Value brand products by 15%

Time-Bound: To increase the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of all our Value brand products by 15%, by the end of Q3 this year (a check would need to be made again to ensure the time-frame was achievable)

Final Note

Producing a SMART Goal is only one part of the equation – albeit a very important one. To realise the goal we need to:

  1. Keep referring to the goals when actioning your daily to-do lists and in project reviews this helps you to stay on-track and focused on the items which really matter
  2. Close out those items which don’t support the delivery of your goals
  3. Check for maintained relevance
  4. Schedule and set aside time for the actions to be completed (see our Time Management article for more support on this)
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Tip!

A method some very successful people deploy is to socialise their goals. By doing so they make a very public statement on what they will achieve. This means they are holding themselves to account – in a very public way. Now often these are quite stretching aims (and therefore bring the achievable element into question), nonetheless the focus and motivation is then clear for all and that in itself provides drive.

Though they may not always deliver on the grand goal they set out to deliver, they do achieve great success that otherwise may not have materialised. For this, you have to be confident in your ability and have a great deal of resilience. If tempted to pursue this avenue perhaps start small to test the waters.

SMART Goals FAQ’S

What is Goal Setting Theory?
Goal Setting Theory essentially states those who set goals are more likely to be successful than those who do not. There are 5 principles assigned to Goal Setting Theory:

  1. Clarity
  2. Challenge
  3. Commitment
  4. Complexity
  5. Feedback
Where can SMART Goals be applied?
SMART Goals are not just the preserve of business. SMART Goals should be utilised when seeking to achieve any goal in whichever setting. Examples:

  1. Organisational goals
  2. Project goals
  3. Personal goals
  4. Travel goals
  5. Savings goals

The above are just examples the list is not exhaustive.

Why is it important to have SMART goals?
  1. Saves time – Being clear from the outset on the objectives will save a significant amount of time if trying to find out further down the road.
  2. Stay on track – These also help you to stay on track after all “If you don’t know where your going any road will get you there”
  3. Make a commitment – once committed particularly openly we are more likely to drive through to resolution
  4. Focus – we spend time on the activities which matter and ditch those that don’t
  5. Success – Goal Setting Theory states that those who set SMART goals are more likely to be successful
SMART Goals Infographic

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