Many organizations use the SMART acronym as a guide to determine whether a given goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

In his article “When SMART Goals Are Dumb,” blogger Brad Kolar points out a common failure mode for such goals.

In short, it’s relatively easy to define goals that measure whether someone is busy or not, or whether some specific milestone has been reached.

Is this important? Yes, it is, but ensuring that people are busy is not the same thing as ensuring organizational success. Achieving well-specified outcomes is groovy too, but those outcomes have to somehow contribute to the success of the organization.

If you’d like your SMART goals to work harder for you, why not build them into a strategic IO map for your organization? I showed a very simple example of such a tree in my last post.

Building such a map is a very good way to reason about whether achieving the goals you have set is actually likely to lead to better results for your organization. Such a map is also a great tool for communicating with others in your organization.