Skip to content

Setting Goals: SMART Goals

This is part 3 of a 5 part series on Setting Goals.

Let’s get SMART

What is a ‘goal’? There are many different ways that organizations define goals, and in those differences, problems can arise. Having a consistent definition of a ‘goal’ is an important part of goal setting as it will lead to consistency across your entire organization.

SMART is a common framework for defining goals. A SMART goal is:

Specific – Target a specific task, area or metric for improvement.

Measurable – Includes a clear quantifiable measurement of success.

Assignable – Includes who will own the goals.

Realistic – The goal should not be impossible.

Time-specific – There should be a clear deadline or timeline.

Let’s look at an example! If your marketing team needs to improve the number of leads they generate to help increase sales, there are two ways they could define their goal:

Bad Goal: Increase leads by 500%.

SMART Goal: Increase the number of completed demo request forms by 60% before December 1st, 2016.

The Bad Goal, true to its name, is very vague. It’s unclear how “leads” would be measured, when the goal would be achieved and a 500% increase is unrealistic in a reasonable time frame. The SMART Goal is very specific and measurable (referring to demo request forms), realistic and time-specific (due on a date). Note that both goals are assignable to the marketing team, but with the SMART Goal anyone can verify if the goal is achieved whereas the Bad Goal might be open to interpretation.

Even SMART goals can be open to interpretation. What is “Realistic”? The CEO might think a 500% increase is realistic because other companies are able to achieve it, whereas the team might think a 60% increase is realistic considering the limited time. This is where goal setting becomes an art form instead of a science and leadership must ensure that goals are aggressive but not impossible.

The good news is that goal setting becomes easier the more you do it, and the more you do it the better you will get at determining the difference between impossible and aggressive.

Quote of the Day: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


The Setting Goals series