Very interesting to hear M&M disecting SMART goals. They've always been one of those things that confused me slightly, due to the diversity of definitions arouind (as mentioned in the cast).

SMART goals are, however, so five minutes ago! Where I work we now have to have BEST goals (I kid you not)

[b]B[/b] - Belief, goals should exemplify our belief in delivering quality customer service.
[b]E[/b] - Excellence, goals should drive us towards improving the excellence of the services we deliver
[b]S[/b] - Success, goals should drive the business to succeed
[b]T[/b] - Trust - goals should build trust within the organisation and with our service users

On one level that's like "Sure, pretty obvious". If you have customers then you probably want to deliver a quality (meaning 'fit for purpose') customer service, excellence is a pretty good thing to aim for, I'd be suprised if there was any business in any sector that didn't want to succeed and trust (or at least to be trustworthy and trusted) is usually a good thing. On the other hand there have been some questions asked as to who thought this up, how much we paid them and whether the money could have been better spent.

In practice most people decide what it is they think their goals should be then try to hammer the wording to a shape that fits the requirements.

In the cast Mark and Mike talked a bit about HR not wanting to put deadlines on things due to them causing stress, Mark talked about there being two sorts of stress, distress (bad) and eustress (usually good), and how setting deadlines can promote eustress. Whilst I mostly agree, I do think that a deadline that is mutually agreed and is realistic is much more likely to promote eustress whilst one that is imposed, even if realistic, is much more likely to cause distress. Mark cites eustress, in the cast, as being when Michael Jordan calls for the ball. Good analogy, he has set his own deadline, he wants the ball now. Imposing a deadline is closer to throwing the ball at him even though he's not ready to receive it. Unfortunately many of us are handed down deadlines which may not be acheivable or are acheivable but only with undue inconvenience and/or assuming not needing any contingency for parts that might not be totally in your control (e.g. you require an item delivered by a 3rd party supplier, you SLA (which forms part of a contract that means that you can only use that supplier for these items) with this supplier is that 90% of these items will be delivered within 5 days so the person setting the deadline assumes that your order won't be in the 10% that are late), leading to distress.


Mark's picture
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This is why we hate acronyms. There's no way that the core purpose or value of goals were first in the creator's mind when he or she came up with "BEST" goals.



sambahat's picture

I was actually sent to a half-day training class on how to write "SMART" goals. A bunch of managers sat around in a room and an instructor went over each letter about nearly half an hour. Then, we practiced writing SMART goals by writing some down, passing to other managers, and having them reviewed in front of the class. Several exercises occurred in which the group discussed how those goals could be made SMART.

On a lighter note, in the Coaching Card (, the "establish goals" sections includes references to make "SMART" goals.

Though you'd get a kick out of that.

Mark's picture
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Unfortunately, we sometimes have to give guidance that is incomplete because we have not covered a related topic. SMART goals are better than nothing...

But thank you for the reminder to change the coaching card.