Tag Archives: goals

SMART goals reduce creativity and innovation

from lmsgoncalves.com/2013/01/14/defining-objectives-is-really-productive/

During my Christmas holidays I read a great book – “Drive”.
Part of the book talks about goal setting
How many of you heard that goals must be SMART? Do you actually think it is a good definition for goals? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-scaled.
According to the studies discussed in the “Drive”, goals tend to narrow our focus. This does not sound too bad, right?
in reality this is good only for activities that use the left part of the brain, i.e. for simple tasks that do not require creativity. But, as Daniel warns in his book, for complex and conceptual tasks giving a specific and measurable objective can blinker the wide-ranging thinking that is necessary to come up with an innovative solution.
Another problem with specific and measurable goals, in my opinion, is that reaching them becomes the only thing that matters.
On a larger scale, this may cause systematic problems for the organization
“Give a manager a target and he will do everything to achieve it. Even if he has to destroy the company in the process” by W. Edwards Deming


about goals

there’s SMART goals (Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Realistic / Timely), and then there’s STUPID goals (with more focus on strengths and what you really care for than planning and control).

some (like Leo / @zenhabits) even say it’s better to achieve without goals, or to not have goals!

or even stop trying to be more productive!

You don’t need goals to tell you what to do.

Goals as a system are set up for failure.

Toss productivity advice out the window.

…. the advice is wrong for a simple reason: it’s meant to squeeze the most productivity out of every day, instead of making your days better.

Imagine instead of cranking out a lot of widgets, you made space for what’s important. Imagine that you worked slower instead of faster, and enjoyed your work. Imagine a world where people matter more than profits.

Life where you’re always doing something you love is art.

but if you don’t have goals, or even if you do, the point is really to improve, continuously, isn’t it? 

Jurgen recently asked for and received concrete advice for becoming a better manager – not abstract  values or principles, but concrete advice on what agile managers should do from day to day.


– should you set a specific (numeric) target or not?

– should you plan some time ahead, like in a project, or should you just think about the next step (even if in the direction of a specific vision)?

– should you focus on improving your weaknesses, or focus on excelling with your strengths?

– should you even have goals, or just follow your passion?


STUPID goals are better than SMART goals. (agile is better than waterfall…)

SMART goals are like waterfall software development.


agile methods are better.


also, the “S” and “U” below makes me think about strenghts-based thinking.


Christophe writes about STUPID goals (edit: outdated link on runningagile.com)


These 21st century SMART goals are human, fair, action oriented, performance enhancers.

And, [breathe in, breath out, breath in] I despise them.


My rejection comes from a … deeper root cause.


Plan, set scope, set time 

This sounds awfully like a mini-waterfall project plan. Doesn’t it? 

The problem with SMART goals is the set of a specific target. 

Lean tells us that systems will produce to their intrinsic capacity. The same applies to people. 

If the target is set to low, there is definitive under achievement. If set too high, failure or unsustainable efforts are the only options.


Long ago, Deming warned managers of target setting through his 11th point of leadership: “Eliminate numerical goals, numerical quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.”


So, if SMART goals are stupid, let me introduce you to STUPID goals:

  • Sincere: attack issues you really care about. Don’t waste time where [your] heart isn’t [in it]
  • Transparent: you likely won’t achieve big things alone. Make your goal as much visible as possible so others know how they can help you 
  • Unique: your worth depends on the assets no one else has. Cultivate those 
  • Preeminent: focus on outstanding things to have outstanding impact 
  • Independent: reaching a goal is hard enough, don’t tangle them together 
  • Daring: be courageous, and push beyond your limit

Edit: see also www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-smart-people-should-set-stupid-goals-tal-granite/ 
(Service-oriented, True to self, Unique, Positive, Inspiring, Daring)