Goals provide direction and focus for our organizations. Goals unite stakeholders around a common mission and provide a pathway for moving forward, or do they? We know that is the intention and purpose of goals. However, we often see organizations use general language for their goals that does not differentiate their organization from the next one.
There is a simple test that we use to determine the strength of a goal – S.M.A.R.T.
When your goal can pass the five steps listed below, then you are well on your way to having quality information that you will be proud to share and your stakeholders will be excited to receive.
1. Specific – Explicitly state what you want to happen, where and to whom as a result of your intervention. Utilize the five “W” questions.
- What change do I want to accomplish?
- Who is the target population?
- Where is the setting?
- When will the change occur?
- Why is this important?
2. Measurable – Identify the amount of change that you want to occur.
- Is it quantifiable?
- Can WE measure it?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
3. Attainable – Determine realistic goals that you have control accomplishing.
- Is the goal achievable within the designated timeframe?
- Do we have control and influence over accomplishing it?
- Is it feasible with our current resources?
4. Relevant – Select goals that matter and are meaningful. A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Does it support the current literature and best practices?
- Does this connect to our theory of change?
- Is this acceptable for change?
5. Timely – Establish a time frame to complete the goal. A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
- When will it be accomplished?
- What change will occur one year from now?
Below is an example of the SMART test in practice. Can you see the differences?
- Non-SMART Goal – Students will increase their reading proficiency rate.
- SMART Goal – Participating students Spring 2014 proficiency rates on DIBELS will increase from fall 2013 rates by 15% for each school targeted by the program.