SMART Goal Setting

What is SMART goal setting?

SMART framework provides the framework for setting clear, attainable goals in project management. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

A SMART goal incorporates all of these elements to bring greater clarity, focus, and motivation, all of which help increase the odds of successfully achieving the desired results.

What is the History of SMART Goal Setting?

The SMART goal-setting approach, commonly attributed to Peter Drucker, a prolific author, and management consultant whose writing helped shape modern business, first appeared in a November 1981 issue of Management Review. Since then, SMART has evolved to facilitate broader interpretations than the original intent. The acronym has even expanded to SMARTER for some in order to accommodate two additional criteria: Evaluated and Reviewed.

How is it Useful for Product Management?

Identifying and establishing goals is an ever-present and major part of a product manager’s very existence. SMART goal setting can help PMs and product teams create realistic, attainable goals and stick to a plan.

Cait Porte, the co-founder of Boston Women in Product and force behind Product Manager in Heels, writes:

“For product managers, setting goals for your products and roadmaps on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis will help you with your accomplishments, and provide the visibility into your work that senior managers are looking for. … Whatever the goal, make sure that it follows the outline of SMART goals and I guarantee it will be more achievable than if you hadn’t.”

Once a PM has a roadmap, SMART goals can help bring clarity, focus, and motivation to actionable tasks. By having to define objectives and set deadlines, PMs are more likely to achieve success.

How to Create a SMART Goal

Here are the steps to using this framework to create, develop, and achieve a clear, meaningful goal.

1. Specific: Define a clear, specific goal.

2. Measurable: Make sure your goal is measurable so you can track progress, which helps you stay focused and meet deadlines.

3. Attainable: Create a goal that is realistic. It shouldn’t be limiting but should definitely be attainable.

4. Relevant: Ensure your goal matters to you and aligns with your other goals, as well as the needs of the organization.

5. Time-bound: Assign a target date so that your SMART goal doesn’t get lost in the mix of day-to-day demands.

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