SMART Goals Again

A couple years ago, I blogged about a new take on the old SMART approach to setting goals and objectives, called START NOW, from San Francisco-based executive coach Sandy Piderit (whose new blog is The Wisdom of Managing Change).

Yesterday, while revisiting my ORPA approach to engaging performance, another flash occurred to me on SMART goals. I'm also calling it SMART. Here are the elements:

S = Shared

M = Managed

A = Aligned

R = Reinforced

T = Tracked

Let's look at each piece.

Shared - Goals need to be shared. For me, this has a few facets.
- Since goals represent key aspirations of the organization, there should be a shared understanding of the goal. What we are trying to accomplish? Why? Do we have a shared vision?
- We reach this shared meaning through conversation about the goal. It may take several meetings to socialize the goal with key stakeholders. Seek their input. Give them a copy of the goal in writing. Engage them around the goal.
- If there are others who share in the actual work that will be undertaken toward this goal, it would be important to clarify roles and responsibilities.

Managed - How often are freshly written goals put into a file, only to be quickly forgotten as we rush back to the "fire fighting" of the moment. What happened to those goals? They stay in the dark until, months later, they resurface for the year-end review.

Instead of this "goal filing," how about managing toward your goals? This includes:
- Keeping your goals visible. They could be entered into your favorite computer application or thumb-tacked to your cubicle wall.
- Ensuring that you are moving toward them, even if only by inches, each and every day
- Testing your actual expenditure of time and energy against your goals to be sure you are actually doing goal-directed work
- Periodically revisiting your goals to see if they are still suitable in view of changing conditions.

Aligned - This is the strategic part of the new SMART model. Goals need to "line up" like magnetized shavings, all pointing in the same direction as indicated by the organization's mission and strategic plans.
- Every member of the organization, regardless of functional area or level, needs to know where the organization is desiring to go.
- With that understanding, they can fully engage in setting goals.
Aligned goals ensure that each person is doing something to contribute to the common movement for the organization.

Reinforced - By "reinforced," I mean strengthening your capability to attain the goal. Do you have what you need to reach the goal?

Think of a car trip to a distant vacation destination. What do you need to get there? A good map. A full tank of gas. Four good tires. You get the idea.

What information, tools, skills, and other resources will you need to reach the goal? Do you have the energy? Do you need training? Would it help to enlist a consultant? A coach?

Tracked - Finally, but critically, do you have a way of knowing the progress you are making? Along the way to a goal, it's likely that you will encounter obstacles and interruptions which could slow you down or throw you off track altogether. Conditions could change so significantly that the goal itself might come into question, be revised, or dropped completely. How will you keep track? And keep others informed of your progress?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, March 10, 2009


Brian said…
Terrance - thank you for postings that need to be saved, and re-read...
somewhere in here, I'd like to include some sort of "feedback loop" where I can encourage discussions about the priorities, or the directions of the goals as part of this SMART goals process
regards, from Syracuse, NY
Brian McLaughlin

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