Are your change objectives S.M.A.R.T.?


Has your change initiative lost steam? Do you find that you’re constantly spinning your wheels or going around in circles? Many factors contribute to these frustrations. One of these factors could be the quality of your change objectives that were developed (or should have been developed) at the beginning of your initiative.

I like to develop change objectives using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-related. (You can scour the internet to find out more about this simple and efficient acronym). Here is an example of a S.M.A.R.T. objective:

Sell 1000 units of product A by December 31, 2014

  • Setting up S.M.A.R.T. objectives will help get everyone on the same page.
  • S.M.A.R.T. objectives will provide enough detail to make the project team and change leaders contemplate the types of resources, activities and requirements needed to meet these objectives. It’s a segway to identifying the impacted stakeholders and seeing who needs to participate in the initiative to completion.
  • S.M.A.R.T. objectives, with the time-related aspect included, will add enough pressure to get people thinking about the critical path and highlight elements that may be in jeopardy due to perceived contraints. These constraints can then be worked-out or brought up the chain of command for resolution.
  • I’ve seen, and still continue to see, many change initiatives move forward with the absence of clear change objectives. This leaves the initiative exposed to misinterpretations, misalignment and confusion. The absence of clear change objectives make it harder to gauge and monitor the progress of your change initiative.

    I think that many people steer away from documenting objectives using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym for the fear of failing to meet the expectations they were meant to achieve, such as missing the time-related component of a S.M.A.R.T. objective. Some companies view missed deadlines as grounds for dismissal – if this is the case, it may make sense to exclude the time-related component. All I am saying is that the clearer you can be in communicating what the initiative sets out to do, the better off you will be.

    Check out my video to see how I’ve incorporated S.M.A.R.T. objectives into my ChangeMachine application:


    This was the third post in my series/ journey to build a software application to serve organizations, groups and individuals on large change initiativess. Below are the other posts/videos related to the ChangeMachineTM
    1. Intro to ChangeMachineTM
    2. Digitizing the change management workflow
    3. Are your change objectives S.M.A.R.T.?
    4. Identify your impacted stakeholders early…

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