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As leaders in business, we have all been exposed to the clever acronym SMART –  standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Furthermore, we have all applied it with success routinely in relation to setting goals.

SMART principles for organizational change

What is less common, but equally effective, is its application for developing a sequence of priority steps, which map out the desired path of organizational change for a company. The process begins by asking the five basic questions:

  • Specifically, where are we now and what do we want to achieve for our organization?
  • How will we Measure it? How will we know when we get there?
  • Is it Attainable? Can we get it done with the resources we have and with the obstacles we are facing?
  • Is it Relevant? Is this goal worth achieving?
  • What is the required Timeline for getting it done? Can we meet this timeline?

Implementing SMART strategies

Once these basic questions are answered, we can take our starting point (where we are now) and draw the line to our destination (where we want to go). We then ask, “what is the sequence of steps required to complete this journey?” Once these steps are outlined, we can formulate SMART goals for each step. We then have a picture of what needs to be done first, second, and so on until we are done. Obviously, some steps may still be in motion when other steps are begun. We can drill down further into specificity by delegating specific people to specific tasks to accomplish specific measurable results within a specific time frame.

We now have a SMART goal with clearly outlined steps and associated delegations to get us to that goal. In essence, we now have a SMART strategy for organizational change. It will be the job of leadership to manage the change process, including effective observation, monitoring and shifting as needed. It can be very helpful to have the support of objective outside consulting to provide additional input, problem-solving, executive coaching, or to recommend changes in direction, resource allocation and performance management.

An organizational change strategy that leverages the strengths of the SMART model, frames it with an intelligent roll out of steps, and grounds it in reality with specific delegations and timelines, is just plain smart!!