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Getting SMART about Outcomes

Are you working smart? I was reading Brad Kolar’s blog entry When SMART Goals are Dumb. SMART is an acronym that is used to help project leaders evaluate whether an objective is appropriate for a project.

Specific  Measureable  Attainable  Realistic  Timely

By applying this SMART criteria, it is believed that better objectives are identified. Kolar’s blog points out that while this method is great for helping understand whether an objective is actionable and measurable, it may not tell you whether it is worthwhile.

Many activities, though easy to measure, don’t move an organization (or individual) toward goals.

To be fair to SMART, there is no consensus on the meaning of the letters. While the use above is common, other, recent, variations use Results or Results-Oriented for the “R”. The point is to be careful designing SMART goals, because even carefully constructed objectives may be precise and still be leading you down a wrong path. While organizations strive to be more results-oriented, whether they are good results or bad results depends upon how they fit into organizational goals.

It is important to measure and collect data, though it is very easy to become overwhelmed by the data. Albert Einstein said “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted”. Good reason to start with goals that count and to make sure that what is done and what is measured is aligned with those goals.

Staying busy does not mean you are being productive. As we all juggle priorities and responsibilities during the day, we need to pay attention to being effective. Business guru Peter Drucker says that efficiency is dong things right, effectiveness is doing the right thing. Thinking in terms of outcomes, not just outputs, is a great way of working smart.

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