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SMART is a mnemonic used in project management at the project objective setting stage. It is a way of evaluating if the objectives that are being set are appropriate for the individual project. The term is also in common usage in performance management, whereby goals and targets set for employees must fulfill the criteria.

The origin of the term is unknown, but Peter Drucker, in his 1954 seminal work, "The Practice of Management" outlined a system that was very similar to SMART objectives while discussing objective-based management.

In recent years the term SMART as well as DUMB (doable, understandable, manageable & beneficial) have been used beyond the original confines of management by objectives (MBO) and project management.

Terms behind the letters[edit | edit source]

There is no clear consensus about precisely what the five keywords mean, or even what they are in any given situation. Typically accepted values are:

Letter Major Term Minor Terms
S Specific Significant[1], Stretching, Simple
M Measurable Meaningful[1], Motivational[1], Manageable
A Attainable[2] Appropriate, Achievable, Agreed[3][4], Assignable [5], Actionable, Action-oriented[1], Ambitious[6]
R Relevant Realistic[5], Results/Results-focused/Results-oriented[2], Resourced[7], Rewarding[1]
T Time-bound Time framed, Timed, Time-based, Timeboxed, Timely[2][4], Timebound, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Trackable, Tangible

Choosing certain combinations of these labels can cause duplication; such as selecting Attainable and Realistic; or can cause significant overlapping as in combining Measurable and Results; Appropriate and Relevant etc. Agreed is often used in management situations where buy-in from stakeholders is desirable.

Richard and Becky Dufour [How to reference and link to summary or text] have popularized the term, "SMART Goals" in schools and districts throughout the United States. Grade level and department teams of teachers determine their SMART goal. The SMART goal helps to focus the team on one goal which the whole team is accountable for achieving. Teams are continuously asking three questions: (1)What do we want our students to learn? (2) How will we know if they learn it? (3) What will we do if they don't learn it?

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Project Smart SMART Goals
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 ACRL - Writing Measurable Objectives
  3. Ten Steps to SMART objectives.cdr
  4. 4.0 4.1 SMART Objectives
  5. 5.0 5.1 IT Project Management 4th Edition - Thompson Course Tech. - Kathy Schwalbe
  6. Wiktionary
  7. Favell, I. (2004) – The Competency Toolkit. Fenman, Ely, Cambs.

See also[edit | edit source]

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