Earlier this week I wrote about how important it is for leaders to have BHAGs (Big Hair Audacious Goals), that are huge visions and dreams about what could be possible with a God sized faith.
Ready for me to burst your balloon? You can't live in BHAG world forever. You need to come back to earth with SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. They're much more specific, grounded, and realistic than the wild and crazy BHAG dream you might have.
Why do leaders need to make and keep SMART goals?
1. Goals without structure are wishes - SMART helps give a structure to what we want to accomplish as a leader. When we build SMART goals into our leadership, we're giving a plan for how we want to accomplish our goals, and we're being very specific about what we want to accomplish. Simply saying "We want to make disciples all over the world!" sounds like a great goal, but really it's a wish. There's no way to go about doing that. A SMART goal for that would be something like "We're going to make disciples in our community, involve with church plants in ____, and partner with missionaries in ____." Rather than a wish, there's a plan in place with a very specific focus.
2. SMART goals aim at something you can hit - Too many times leaders try to go after something that's not realistic or attainable. SMART goals are things that can be accomplished in a limited period of time with reasonable effort. In doctoral studies, the best advice I got on writing my dissertation was "Pick something you can write about and finish in a year." That advice helped our entire class focus on something that we could accomplish, not some pie-in-the-sky dream of changing the world. It's January so everyone is in "Lose Weight" Resolution mode, and too often people set a goal that can't be reached, like losing 30 pounds in a month or something like that.
3. They develop a winning cycle - There's a really funny scene in one of the Major League movies where the manager comes in and says "We won a game today, we won a game yesterday, and if we win one tomorrow that's called a winning streak. We've had those before here." SMART goals, because they are attainable, can be measured, and are within a limited timeframe, provide a sense of momentum where wins are regular and expected. When leaders set SMART goals, they're building a series of gradually increasing wins that build on previous goals like a house being built.
4. They create a sense of urgency - Because SMART goals are very specific, have to be measured (against a previous amount or a particular benchmark), and have a limited timeframe, there is a sense of urgency that is natural to them. Building a sense of urgency is important for any leader, especially in ministry, to create a culture of action and change. I love Kotter's approach to leading change, and especially his thoughts on what a sense of urgency is.
5. They develop a plan for accomplishing - SMART goals need a plan if they're going to happen. They need to be focused on a specific focus, have a system for measuring and determining success, be achievable and not something far fetched, be relevant (so a church shouldn't probably set a sales goal), and be timely where there's an end point. All of those factors require leaders to have a plan for accomplishing the goal. They need to be able to backwards plan where they work from the end point towards the starting line, they need to be able to identify the first priorities, and they need to be able to measure success with specific metrics (for example: church health is difficult to measure with attendance and giving only, but with small group involvement, volunteers, and baptism/conversion ratios can be measured more effectively).
Next will be where we come up with a strategy for combining BHAGs and SMART so that leaders can be effective in leading and casting vision.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.