Smart goals – busted, or the path to success?
Vision, goals, live your dreams – all these beautiful catch phrases seem to be bounced around freely, almost to the point of meaningless. So, when it comes to running an organization, why do business mentors and coaches like myself harp on about smart goals?
I was drawn to this question by a post from Lisa Earle McCleod: “Why smart goals don’t work and what to do instead”. She reveals that she no longer stresses the importance of smart goals. Instead, “for inspiration, you need to think bigger”. She prefers to concentrate of strategic issues. That requires measuring impact and engagement.
McCleod suggests that smart goals are task orientated. Strategic goals can be complex and definitely require creativity. And up to this point in time, I fully agree. But now let me throw back into the ring what she appears to downplay.
In a commercial world where entrepreneurship and innovation dominate – often infused by large doses of ADHD – it is easy to play up strategic issues. They are fun and have less boundaries. However, there are few organisations that survive without defined guidelines. Enter the mnemonic ‘SMART’, not just a glib phrase.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time bound
I have started working with a company in Jerusalem, which has been floundering. One internal complaint is that they are unable to finish projects on time, easy distracted by conflicting concepts. When I first asked what happens when work is delivered late, there was a bemused silence. Eventually someone mentioned that this impacts on revenues. So, I then asked if each project has a timeframe, to which I was treated to several embarrassed looks.
Or consider another Jerusalem-based client, who runs a start up. Life is manic. All fun, meeting loads of exciting people with incredible ideas. However, the CEO has a unique habit of not moving ahead. Why? Because they have no rules to deliver the new tech on time. So, for all the hype, at the core of the business is inertia, and the proposed sales timetable recedes into the distance.
It is essential for a company or unit to focus on sales. However, push back or ignore those boundaries and you cease to have a clever business model.