A management fad you can skip

When SMART goals are a bit dim.
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Hype-driven technology can cause trouble for an IT shop, and hype-driven management techniques can be just as troubling. One of the worst offenders, in the view of Bob Lewis at InfoWorld, is the notion of SMART goals, which is said to stand for "specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely."

It's good for goals to be specific and timely, and it is useful for them to be attainable. The problem with the SMART goals approach, according to Lewis, is that "it ignores both a core principle of business measurement and one of the most basic skills every first-time manager who wants to become a second-time manager quickly learns: the art of giving lip service."

The "measurable" and "relevant" parts of the SMART approach are where the fad leads astray. "American business has developed an unhealthy obsession with measurability," Lewis writes. "The plain fact of the matter is that there's an inverse correlation between an item's measurability and its importance."

A department's goals should not be irrelevant, Lewis agrees, but they must be consistent with the organization's over-arching strategic goals. In other words, the goal of a manager must be relevant not only to him or her but also to a larger strategy.

"Any manager whose responsibilities aren't a complete waste when it comes to making the company tick can easily establish that just about anything is relevant," he writes." It doesn't even take much creativity. But a bunch of managers, all busily assigning SMART goals that are merely relevant, easily become presiders over a bunch of organizational silos--which, when you get down to it, isn't a SMART way to lead an organization."

For more:
- see Bob Lewis's post at InfoWorld

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