TIP of the Week – R.I.P. S.M.A.R.T.


Did setting SMART objectives ever really work that well for you? I can almost hear you groaning from here at the thought!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great idea and I love the concept but it has had so many variations and different interpretations it’s difficult to be certain what each one now stands for! Almost every organisation I work with has their own slightly different version. Do you recognise any of the following variations?

The ‘S’ can be Specific or Sensible or Significant

If the ‘M’ is Measurable, can’t that also mean when we deliver it?

The ‘A’ could be Attainable, Achievable or even Action Oriented!

The ‘R’ could be for Relevant or Realistic but isn’t that the same as Achievable in A above?

Often ‘T’ is for Time bound but it can also be Timely. Is that the date by which your objective has to be complete or how many hours you have to complete it in? Couldn’t it be both?

I have seen other variations such as SMARTERSMARTEST and so on…….

The biggest problem of all with ‘SMART’ as an objective setting tool is that it doesn’t guide you to define the resources you might need in terms of money or people, to be successful. It also does not give any guidance about setting a detailed chronological plan to monitor your progress.

The time has come to bury ‘SMART‘ once and for all and move on to a more robust, universally understood and reliable approach.

At TIPS we have re-written the structure for objective setting, and we offer you the definitive objective setting model that works each and every time in a clear, concise unambiguous way…….are you ready for this?

From today: S.W.I.T.C.H. on your objectives!

S = Success; what does it look like and how will you know when you are there?

This means what will you see when you are successful, what will people be saying or what will you be doing and feeling differently about things when you are successful?     In other words using our whole range of senses to lock in our objective to the subconscious brain. This way when an opportunity comes along to progress your objective you are already tuned in to respond to it positively. This makes a successful outcome far more likely. To quote the late great Stephen Covey: “Start with the end in mind!”

W = Whose assistance do you need and who needs to be involved?

Here you clearly identifying the resources and support you will need from both inside and outside of the organisation. Who are the stakeholders and customers? When and how will you communicate with them? This area also includes establishing key decision points, responsibilities and accountabilities.

I = Impact: what difference will this objective make, what are the benefits?

You need to provide a means of determining the effect of your objective being successful. It could be an improvement to the business finances, or the individual, team or organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness. Whatever the impact is should be stated through a clear metric which shows where you are a starting from and where you intend to be within the set time frame.

T = Time by which it needs to be completed?

This should be expressed not only in terms of a specific date and time by which the objective should be met, but also how many man hours will be expended in achieving it. Both are relevant and important for monitoring purposes. The latter should tie in with the statement under ‘W’ about whose assistance and support you may need. This will all aid your progress and gain the authority you need to implement your objective.

C = Clearly expressed in terms that are easily understood by all?

When you have decided what the objective should be, give some thought to how that will be communicated to all levels within the business and preferences for receiving information. For example an e-mail might be appropriate, a formal report may be required or a presentation may be necessary to a wider audience. Certainly some one to one communication should be considered with your boss, colleagues and direct reports. Social media and even Company websites might be a means of communicating clearly what you are setting out to do.

H = How will you get there, what needs to be done?

This is where you construct your time phased plan. You have worked out your starting point and you know where you want to get to, who is involved and when. Now you commit that to a plan (preferably a Gantt Chart) which can be monitored on a regular basis to ensure you are on target. The plan includes key decision points, communication with stakeholders and key milestones along the way. Where you are dependant on other people or services is also mapped out and becomes the guiding document to achieving your objective, on time, on cost and meeting expectations.

So there you have it, the most consistent, robust and reliable objective setting tool you will ever need. Give it a try, it will outperform ‘SMART’ every time, therefore…… 

R.I.P. – S.M.A.R.T. Long live S.W.I.T.C.H.

Further information and detailed training programmes are available from TIPS for Good Management