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Objective Setting - Is DUMB the new SMART?

STS 134 International Space Station after undocking

The ability to set and deliver objectives is an integral part of the role of a manager, be that interpreting the strategy of the business and turning it into something tangible that the team can deliver on, motivating your team to set their own objectives and to be accountable for them, or of course, setting your own personal objectives.

The default model used to help us write these objectives is SMART, which ensures that objectives are:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant 

Time bound

The model very much appeals to the left hand side of the brain, the side of the brain that likes structure and formality.  It helps to break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable chunks and makes the seemingly impossible seem possible.

But therein lies the rub.  Is there a danger that by using a model such as SMART, the use of words such as achievable and time bound somehow limit us in our ability to dream about what is actually possible?

Consider the following examples and compare them with the SMART model:

  • Air Travel
  • Building an International Space Station 
  • One man single-handedly planting a 1,360 acre forest (Check out Jadav “Molai” Payeng if  you don’t believe us)
  • Leicester City winning the Premier league at odds of 5000-1

On the face of it, none of these objectives were achievable yet they happened.  Had Mr Payeng sat down with a SMART objective in mind, the likelihood is that he would have set himself a smaller target.

So how can we allow ourselves to dream big without setting ourselves up to fail?  One suggestion is to act DUMB without thinking SMART.

For the right sided brain people reading this, please forgive the fact that this model is produced in a left brain list format – old habits die hard!

Dream based

Uplifting

Motivating

Behaviour Changing

In truth, there are several versions of what DUMB stands for but that’s the point.  It can pretty much stand for whatever you like, but the premise is all about being bold and thinking big.  To quote those well-known strategic thinkers S Club 7 in their thesis entitled ‘Reach’:

Reach for the stars

Climb every mountain higher

Reach for the stars

Follow your heart's desire

Once you have thought big and established your dream, go for it.  Not tomorrow, but today. The SMART model can help you to break your dream down into chunks and help you to turn a dream into reality.

Therefore rather than choose between DUMB and SMART objectives, why not choose both?

For more information on objective setting or to arrange a confidential consultation, please call us on 01295 675506

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