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Be SMART in planning processes

When you are preparing your plan, whether it is a Strategic Plan, Business Plan, Marketing Plan, Operational Plan, or any other plan, you will end up listing your Goals and Objectives, and probably your strategies or actions of one kind or other.

However, have you been in a position where, some time later, people who are implementing the plan disagree about how far you have got and how much you have achieved? Some will say you’ve got there, others will say that you are only partially successful – and yet they are reading off the same planing document! Have you come to re-read your document say a year later, and then wondered exactly what you meant when you wrote “open up new markets”? Did you mean in different towns, or with different products?

Perhaps you re-read your plan later and thought “how did we agree to do that? It was never achievable!”

SMART is a model that you should use whenever you are writing goals, objectives, strategies and actions. This video explains what is SMART and how to use it.

SMART means:-

Specific – are you specific in the way you worded the goal, objective, strategy or action? Does it say to “open up new markets” or to “choose three different suburbs and open one store in each”?

Measurable – the goal, objective or action needs to be measurable. “Open new stores is not measurable”, however “open three new stores” is. Numbers, times, values, ratios and percentages are measurable

Achievable – is it actually achievable? In the context of your finances and resources, you want to set targets that are a bit of a stretch, but not those which are so far out as to be demotivating. So if you have enough time and money to open 2 new stores, it might be an achievable stretch to open 3, but perhaps a target to open 4 or 5 new stores is so far out of reach that no-one will believe it is possible and they just don’t try that hard.

Result-oriented – this one is hard to wrap your mind around. The goal, objective or action has to be worded so that it is about a result, not an action. For example “open three new stores” is about an action. However “open three new stores that each achieve gross profit of $20,000 a week within the first month” is about a result. If it is about an action – open a store – you can achieve the action without achieving the result intended by the action – more profits or wider market.

Time-specific – sometimes this is referred to as “time-deadlined”. You get the picture. It’s not specific nor measurable, in fact not result-oriented if there is no timing attached to the goal, objective or action. Often this is why people disagree about how far you have got to in your plan.

So, next time you are preparing a planning document, review your final goals, objectives and actions or strategies against the SMART model. It will save you a lot of confusion and disagreement later, and it will focus your team on what really counts in the implementation of your plan.

As usual, the fun happens after – comment on the SMART model on social media or at the website teikoh.com – come to the website and get more tips, tools, templates and resources for free. While you’re there sign up to have out newsletter and these videos delivered directly to your inbox to watch at your convenience.


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