More SMART Goals

Whenever I’m talking to entrepreneurs for the first-time I like to figure out their why (see Start With Why). Why do they do this? Why be an entrepreneur? After understanding the why, I like to talk through the one page strategic plan that was required before meeting. Only, 9 out of 10 times the annual and quarterly goals are too generic. Goals like “raise money” or “sign new customers” are vague. I’m a fan of SMART goals.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of SMART goals from the origination of the acronym in 1981:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Another variation has “Achievable” for the “A” and “Relevant” for the “R” in the acronym. Regardless, SMART goals are the way to go and plain goals should be avoided.

What else? What are some more thoughts on SMART goals?

4 thoughts on “More SMART Goals

  1. Nice post and enjoyed the one on Lululemon as well. I’m coming at this from a slightly different angle as a stock market investor. For VC or a private business you are measuring intangibles which is a whole lot harder. For me it should theoretically be easy and run something like this:

    Specific: NAV
    Measurable: NAV
    Assignable: me
    Realistic: realistic RoR
    Time-related: break annual return into biweekly/ monthly RoR

    I finally locked myself into a plan of this type a few months ago. The trouble comes when I miss target (which is often). What now? One the one hand failure to acknowledge produces a widening deviation between target and reality (affecting Realistic). On the other, if targets are totally movable the whole model breaks down. So FWIW I’d add public accountability as implicit for SMART. The idea is when failure occurs there will be some compromise between adjusting the target and adjusting the reality. Seems like Lululemon has already figured this out 🙂

  2. I always thought the “A” was for actionable. Meaning the goal shouldn’t just be “lose 5 lbs by Jan 1” because that doesn’t speak to the actions required to achieve the goal. Rather it should be “Lose 5 lbs by Jan 1 by exercising 30 minutes every morning and only eating dessert on weekends” since those are acts that can be performed (or avoided) to achieve the goal.

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