Redefining a SMART Goal

Are your objectives or your goals SMART? 

Are you familiar with acronym of SMART goals.  I thought I was until last week when I was told that SMART goals are not Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time Dependant anymore.  No no, for projects where it is commonly known that the goals are not achievable or at all realistic (and I am sure that many have been confronted with projects that fall into this category), then the A & R of the acronym may be substituted for two other words and your goals can still be SMART. 

Achievable becomes Agreed

Realistic becomes Relevant.

Accordingly then it is possible to set completely unrealistic and unachievable goals and they still be SMART and conform to a standard but to what end.  Typically goals are set in order to drive better performance, but if the goal is unobtainable from the start regardless on whether it is agreed or relevant, how does that bring about improved performance.   This may infact have the completely opposite effect and deliver  poor performance overall, especially if corners are cut elsewhere to drive towards the measured target.

More appropriately perhaps is that there is some mention in the acronym of the ability to actually deliver, whether that is defined as achievable or realistic it doesn’t matter but to suggest that no credance at all is paid to what can actually be achieved is misdirected and de-motivating. 

When a goal is seen as achievable no matter how stretching, then it can be a driver towards improved performance, especially if that high level goal is broken down in smaller, more managable pieces.  These act as a motivating tool in and of themselves and as stepping stones towards achieving the at one-time seemingly impossible.

So my thought is, if one feels it necessary to mess around with acronym, go ahead but at least leave one of those statements that help it be defined as possible.  Better still, rather than re-arrange the deckchairs on the titanic, look at the direction the ship is travelling and make sure it isn’t heading for an iceberg.


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