The November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. It discussed the importance of objectives and the difficulty of setting them. Since then, there have been hundreds of spin-offs of this concept. I find this concept very helpful and will use Doran’s main concepts but use personal examples to illustrate the details.

Specific | Measurable | Attainable | Realistic | Timely


A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

  • WHO:         Who is involved?
  • WHAT:       What do I want to accomplish?
  • WHERE:    Identify a location.
  • WHEN:       Establish a time frame.
  • WHICH:     Identify requirements and constraints.
  • WHY:          Specific reasons, benefits of accomplishing the goal.

EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “We need more help at our church.” But a specific goal would say, “We will add one full-time staff member and two volunteers this year for our church.”


Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……

How much? |  How many? | How will I know when it is accomplished?

EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “We want our church to grow.” A measurable goal says, “We want our church to grow by 10% in the next year.”


When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.


To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

EXAMPLE: An unrealistic goal would be, “We want to teach 100 Bible Studies this year.” A realistic goal says, “We want EACH core member of our church to teach ONE Bible Study this next year.”


A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency.

EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “Someday we are going to re-carpet the sanctuary.” A timely goal says, “We will raise the money for the carpet this year and will begin installing the carpet on January 1st.


It has been said that, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” You can make great strides in your organization with goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

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