Get SMART: Turning Great Ideas Into Strategies


So, you received your goals for the year. And rather than letting the future fall to chance, you decided to take control. You pulled the team together and generated a list of ideas – ideas that you hope will make the difference between meeting your goals and falling short; ideas will guarantee success rather than failure.

But what to do now? How do you take this list of ideas and turn them into workable strategies?

The key is to focus on SMART Goals. The acronym SMART is a method for turning an idea into a well-defined strategy that you can implement. It stands for:

SPECIFIC – Tells us exactly what we’re supposed to do.

MEASUREABLE – Allows us to determine the impact and whether or not the strategy was successful.

ATTAINABLE – Has buy-in from the team. Everyone feels that we can accomplish it.

RELEVANT – Helps achieve the overall goal we’ve set out to accomplish.

TIME-BASED – Has defined start and stopping points. We know when it’s over.

To illustrate the power of SMART goals, let’s use a personal example. Let’s say your family has decided to go to Disney World for vacation this fall. After analyzing your vacation budget and the costs associated with the trip, you set a goal to raise $5,000 in order to make the trip happen. So you have a meeting and brainstorm ideas to come up with the money. Ideas include…

  • Garage sale
  • Cut back on eating out
  • Get a second job
  • Sell blood/plasma
  • Discontinue the cable TV
  • Etc.

After brainstorming your list of ideas, you determine which ones have merit and which ones should be discarded. What’s left is a list of great ideas, but no defined strategy. We need to use the SMART Goal filter to turn the ideas into strategies.

For instance, let’s take the second idea on the list – “Cut back on eating out.” Perhaps your family eats out an average of five times per week. Each meal costs you around $50. Armed with this information, you refine your idea using the SMART goal filter. “Cut back on eating out” becomes “Reduce eating out from five times per week to 3 times per week during the months of April and May, saving $800 ($50/meal x 2/week x 8 weeks).”

Now your idea has been transformed into a workable strategy that moves you closer to the ultimate goal. Complete the same process with each idea from your list that you’ve determined has merit. Make sure to develop enough strategies to meet, or exceed, your goal. After a period of time, assess your progress and make any adjustments necessary to remain on track.

Get the most from your team by tackling those goals together. Use brainstorming and SMART goals to move the team forward. Here’s to your success!

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