Larson Design Group founder Ken Larson always said, “Don’t forget the five Ps! Proper planning prevents poor performance.” That’s something that we’ve taken quite seriously here at LDG for a long time. Whether for our three year strategic planning process, annual plans of work derived from the strategic plan, or our office growth and development plans, we work diligently to apply that wisdom, along with another important technique – SMART Goal Setting. As applied to developing organizational goals, the SMART acronym stands for
S = Specific – be clear about what you are trying to accomplish, why it’s important, and how you intend to meet the goal.
M = Measurable – make sure that the level of achievement can be measured, both at interim milestones and at completion. This will allow opportunities for adjustments to processes along the way to help assure success.
A = Attainable – don’t set a goal so high that it’s daunting and invokes fear of failure or falling short. Unattainable goals push people away from full commitment.
R = Realistic – Be honest about organization strengths, weaknesses, and resources. Don’t set the bar too high on results, but also don’t water down expectations of what can be achieved.
T = Timely – Put the goal on a timeline for completion to create a sense of urgency and impetus for progress to occur.
SMART goal setting can be applied to personal goals as well as those for an organization.
Let me share an example. This fall, a goal of mine has been to work on maintaining my fitness level through the winter and benefit a good local cause in the process. So, I’ve been training to run the Frostbite 5 Mile Run on December 12th, with proceeds going to the Lycoming County Special Olympics program.
My SMART goal is – By maintaining a healthy diet and working out a minimum of three times a week with weekly mileage totals of between 10 and 15 miles, I plan on completing the Frostbite 5 Mile Run, weather conditions permitting, in a time of 45:00 minutes or less.
Now let’s see how this stacks up as a SMART goal –
S = Specific – Time of 45:00 or less and a healthy diet so I don’t end up grouped in the Clydesdale Division (a.k.a. runners over 190 pounds- I’m flirting with that weight right now, and who wants to be compared to a big horse?!)
M = Measurable – The clock won’t lie at the finish line, but I’ve also given myself two interim goals, number of training workouts per week with weekly mileage goals in the short term to help me stay focused on building up my strength and endurance for the hilly, 5 mile race.
A = Attainable – I didn’t set my goal for 42:30 which is the best time that I’ve run the race in the past five years, but I didn’t set it at 47:30 which was my time last year in the wind, rain, and 39 degree temperatures.
R = Realistic – I nursed an ankle injury through the summer and have recently come off a bad cold. My running mileage is down over the past six months, and it’s unlikely I will quickly rebuild stamina and endurance to run at or near my best recent time. So, 45:00 is probably realistic and in line with my mantra of “keeping it real.” I’ve also given myself a realistic caveat, “weather conditions permitting,” because if it’s snowing on race day, all bets are off on what my finish time might be.
T = Timely – With one week to go until the race, and with a desired outcome being to re-energize my training regimen before the cold of winter really sets in, the goal of running this race has been timely and motivating.
It’s not too difficult to apply this methodology to any goal and to see that the benefits of this technique are a clear understanding of what is going to be done and how the results will be measured.
I’d enjoy hearing how blog readers might be applying the five Ps and SMART goal setting in organizational or personal activities. . By using both, I’ve found a disciplined way to achieve success at LDG and in my personal life. And now with this blog completed, I’m feeling the urge to hit the road and log some of those final training miles. I’ll be sure to let you know how I the race and my goal-setting have turned out in a future blog!
Best of luck with all your goal-setting and races in life!