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SMARTER Objectives

January 4, 2010

In the Project Management Essentials class, we start talking about SMART Goals in the first session.  The SMART in SMART Goals is a mnemonic device.   Each of the letters in SMART stands for a particular quality.

S=Specific

M=Measurable

A=Assignable

R=Realistic

T=Time bound

By defining our goals using the SMART method, our goals are clearer, focused and more likely to be achieved.  Let’s take a closer look at each of the qualities of SMART Goals.

Goals should be specific.  When setting a goal, establishing the what, why and how of the goal is an important first step.  What does the final outcome look like?  What are you trying to accomplish?  Why is the goal important?  What are the driving forces to accomplish the goal?  How will the goal be accomplished?

Goals should be measurable.  If it is not measurable, it is not manageable.  How will you know when you have accomplished the goal?  What are the interim milestones along the way to completion?  How will you know when you have completed the goal? What are your success criteria?

Goals should be assignable.  Who will be doing what?  Do they understand what is expected from them.  Have they agreed to the expectations?

Goals should be realistic.   The goal should not be too easy or too hard.  You want to feel that you have achieved something of value.  Bring the goal within your range.  Assess where you are and where you need to be to achieve the goal. Unreasonable goals only serve to frustrate.  Success breeds success so make your goals attainable and you will develop a pattern of success which will encourage you to continue to set and achieve goals.

Goals should be time bound.  You must set dates to achieve your goal and the milestones on the way to the goal.  If you do not set dates, the goal will not be achieved.

Some sources add two additional qualities to the SMART Goals, making it SMARTER Goals.  The E stands for evaluate and the R stands for reevaluate.  I like these additions.  They are good reminders that goals must constantly be evaluated and reevaluated and possibly changed or updated.  Stale goals lose their relevance.  Goals that are no longer relevant should either be changed, shelved or eliminated.  The world around us changes constantly.  Goals should reflect those changes.  Goals should be subject to the same change management rigor as any project management deliverable.

References: (note: not all references define SMART the same way, I am using the definition from the curriculum)

http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/smart-goals.html

http://humanresources.about.com/cs/performancemanage/a/goalsetting.htm

http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.html

Template: SMARTER Objectives Worksheet

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