Many of us appreciate the value of setting and working towards S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are generally considered those that are:
S - Specific M - Measurable
A - Achievable (or Attainable)
R - Reachable (or Realistic)
T - Time sensitive
The S.M.A.R.T. approach is now used in nonprofit and for-profit settings typically around performance expectations. For example, in the banking world - at least back when I was in it - these were called compliance covenants. They would spell out revenue, expense and other operational targets that were to be met. The borrower needed to achieve these or the loan could be called in.
In nonprofit settings, S.M.A.R.T. is often used to drive programmatic goals. For example, Teens Run Westchester, a non profit I'm involved in, leans heavily on this concept. We utilize it in connection with long distance running benchmarks to demonstrate goal setting in everyday life. Finally, many of us know that S.M.A.R.T goals can be part of what we, as well as well as our grantors, use to evaluate the efficacy of our work.
When I moved from the corporate world to the nonprofit arena 13 years ago, I was glad to see this. As I've noted in other posts, moving stories of our missions help to engage key audiences, however, measurable results are essential to long term sustainability.
I've had the good fortune of working with organizations that produced results that fit the S.M.A.R.T model. At the same time, I've had the experience of working with some where measuring results wasn't a focus. Conversely, I've also been in situations where the need for measurable data became the focal point of the organization's work - S.M.A.R.T. gone to the wrong extreme.
While I'm in total agreement with the need for measured accountability, it's essential that we not lose sight of "why we do what we do." Next time you're setting your goals, make sure they stack up to another view of S.M.A.R.T., ask:
S - Special. Are your goals special - an inspiring vision of what the world can be if you achieve them? Do they motivate and excite your volunteers, staff, leaders and everyone that's connected with your work?
M - Meaningful. Are you going beyond the numbers (in driving for quantity, don't lose sight of delivering quality) and targeting impact that makes a real difference in the lives of individuals and families that benefit from your work?
A - Aspirational. Do your goals speak to you and your organization always striving to be better and delivering on your mission? Are your goals helping you move from acceptable to outstanding delivery?
R - Responsive and Relationship Oriented. Ok, I couldn't decide on just one becuase I like them both! But hey, my blog, my rules...Do your goals your allow your organization to be flexible and responsive to those you serve? Is your organization building relationships - and most importantly - the right ones with key volunteers, donors, community members and partners?
T - Truth and Authenticity. These are the cornerstones of every good business - for profit and nonprofit. Whether you're talking about the execution of your programs, or the quality of your leadership, how you show up every day matters. Are you and your team going through the motions or authentically engaged in excellence? Hopefully the latter.
I hope these questions and suggestions get you thinking and planning in some new ways as we head into 2015. With attention and focus, they can help to make you and your organization extra - or even Super SMART.
Robert is an Executive and Business Development Coach. You can read him here or on www.younonprofitnow.com