SMART Goals are out DUMB Goals are in
If you’ve ever read any strategic or business planning literature, you’ve no doubt come across the acronym SMART for mapping out goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Those are all fine and dandy objectives, but I’m out to propose another side of the coin—DUMB goals. Hear me out for a second!
DUMB stands for Dreamy, Unrealistic, Motivating and Bold. If you stop and think about traditional and realistic goals, they aren’t that inspiring or exciting. They encourage status quo and/or staying within confined areas to achieve marginally better results at best. Most employees can see through status quo goals and aren’t going to go that extra mile to achieve things that are already within relative reach—greatness comes from inspiration; not reaching a plateau that the ordinary can achieve with typical or expected efforts. That might be why a majority of employees so willingly sign off on the goals during a formal review process—they know they don’t have to do a whole lot more to get the raise that comes from a satisfactory review next time around. Let’s dig a little deeper to see how “DUMB” we can get.
Dreamy goals repeatedly wake you up at night wondering if something is possible with an effort that is truly remarkable. They imply going for that rarified air no one dares to breathe. It’s finding that special “cause” that will unite people on a mission that makes them feel part of something special versus merely putting in time to collect a check. It’s like your kid at five years old saying he’s going to be President one day and you encouraging her/him to be anything they put their mind to. What happened to encouraging that blank canvas of wide open thinking?
Unrealistic goals are the ones traditionalists warn against and believe aren’t obtainable by anyone. To most, a job is a job until there is a challenge of the unimaginable or someone telling you “it can’t be done.” Unrealistic goals push people to really push hard to move beyond what’s expected to stand out in the crowd and achieve greatness. Isn’t it a lot more fun to do something someone says can’t be done?
Motivating goals are those that make someone wake up each morning ready to take on the day versus figuring out a way to muddle through it looking busy even though time is being wasted. They are those things that people want to come to work for instead of calling in sick because they just can’t stand spending all day in the office. Most SMART goals encourage toiling through the day in an effort to fool everyone around into believing someone is working really hard. A motivated workforce is tough to stop because momentum builds daily.
Bold is charting a course competitors don’t dare take because the fear of failure or success is too daunting. There’s a very fine line between failure and success, and most companies and individuals will walk right up to the line and toe it without ever stepping over it. What is the worst that could happen if you stepped across that imaginary line and really went for something? You’ll never know until you try, and most people simply aren’t bold enough to try—we’re too scared we might not be able to return to the comfort zone we currently live. That’s the beauty of the comfort zone however—it’ll always be there in one fashion or another.
I encourage you to DUMB down your goals the next time you’re charting the course for yourself or your company. Who knows what you might achieve?