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What are SMART Goals?

SMART Goals are measures/aims that are designed to create focus for an individual or organisation and achieve specific outputs by a specific timeline. SMART goals allow an individual or organisation to track progress, align strategy and focus resources on areas that have been deemed important and can create advantage for them.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable/Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Across some different sources the exact wording of each letter may differ e.g Time-bound, timely or time-based) but the meaning and focus stays the same.

  • Specific: This relates to the goal being clearly defined and the parameters set to remove any ambiguity. The clearer and more specific the goal the better. Think about what, when, where, how and why?

  • Measurable: This aspect is important as it defines how the goal will be measured. Measurements need to be quantitative not qualitative as to allow for specific achieve/not achieve assessment and if not achieve then how much longer will be needed to achieve. It will also allow you to understand the direct business metric this goal will be affecting.

  • Actionable/Attainable: This relates to making the goal hard enough that if you achieve it you will be gaining significant value, but not having the goal too big that it is unattainable. The preference is to lean towards a more significant goal rather than too easy.

  • Relevant: Sometimes we set goals that can seem important to us but when we achieve them we realise it did not add the value we thought or take the organisation in the direction intended. The goal needs to be relevant to a larger strategy/plan or direction and the goal is a smaller element of that plan. Think about the direct outcome of achieving that goal and what impact that will have on you or your organisation.

  • Time-bound: We need to make sure that the goal can be achieved in a certain timeframe as organisations can run under urgency and if the goal timeframe is too long then it might be worthwhile breaking the goal into smaller goals to allow for better planning and faster turnaround. Time creates urgency so ensure they are realistic but also fit-for-purpose.

Example of a SMART Goal: Increase Monthly New Customer Sales +15% by December 31st 2019

Additional Ressources to learn about SMART Goals:

  • MindTools goes into larger detail here
  • How To Apply SMART Goals on Professional Academy here
  • A few Examples listed by Hubspot here
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