This is final article in a series about using SMART as a checklist to help get better outcomes for you and your team. I recommend you read my intro to this series for more information about the background of SMART, clarification of what the letters mean, and a general pep talk on why you should set aside any ambivalence you have for SMART and read on.

All Together Now

I wanted to sum up how you can use SMART to help you with almost everything you’re doing at work, and how that short little checklist can help you achieve really powerful outcomes. Importantly, even though you have likely heard SMART followed by GOALS most of the time, I strongly encourage you to stop thinking of SMART as just for goals. Start thinking of SMART work.

Start by asking yourself what you want your business or your team to accomplish, and then run that idea through the SMART checklist.


First, ask yourself how the idea you have will help you solve a business problem or how it will take you to a new level. If you can’t answer that easily – perhaps the work isn’t all that relevant and isn’t worth your time. Revise it until you’re sure it has value. (Yes, I know that the acronym does not start with R…just read my article).

Specific & Measurable

As you’re revising it, refine the specific language by asking yourself how you’re going to be able to measure the completeness of the work and how you’re going to evaluate the quality of the work. There should be no ambiguity about whether the work is done, and everyone involved should be able to agree that the quality meets expectations. Revise and rework it until you’ve got it specific enough that the completeness can be accurately measured. Note: “I’ll know it when I see it” is not a measurement.

Achievable & Time-bound

Now that you’ve got a means to measure, think about the timeframe that you want the work to be completed, and then pause for a moment to make sure that the work that you’ve described is doable in the time that is allowed. Is this work really achievable? Are there dependencies that you or your team cannot control that could keep the work from getting finished. Could it be done sooner? What would it take for that to happen? This is a great place for collaboration to really check whether something is achievable. If it is, but not in the time you’ve specified, adjust the time.

Evaluate & Adjust

When the work is complete (measured), check that it was done to the level of quality and within the time that you specified. If not, dig into why using a mindset of curiosity and problem solving – not brow-beating or corrective action. One of the main functions of a good leader is to understand the things that prevent your team from accomplishing goals and meeting expectations and then to get those things out of their way.

Using this process sets your team up for success and helps you keep them in that position. That’s definitely working SMARTer (or RSMAT – but that’s a nonsense acronym).

If you want some help applying these ideas within your business, department, or team, give us a call.