You need to be SMART to GROW
GROWTH Targets – a new model for objective setting?
In the world of coaching the GROW model (often attributed to Whitmore) is often used by practitioners to replace SMART objectives. They often cite “SMART” as being “over used” or that people are bored with it and need something fresh
Even Whitmore uses a traditional version of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic & Time phased) as the criteria for goal setting in the GROW coaching model.
Whitmore in his book says that any goal should be SMART, PURE and CLEAR where:
Where PURE means:
- Environmentally sound
Bored of SMART Objectives– time for change?
Sure people are bored with SMART, but that is because they are treating SMART as knowledge and not applying it. When they actually move from conscious competence to unconscious competence they are no longer bored with it. We rarely get bored by unconscious behaviours, just the outcomes of those behaviours.
Some trainers (First put in print by Jason Stevens of Ican) use what they call the GROWTH Targets or model –
While this cleverly uses Results as a form of measure, and Ownership, there are no boundaries set by the goal phase, leaving SMART as the only framework to guide people in the goal setting phase.
Others like David Winter on his blog lists a SMART variant – but very different from the original thus avoiding confusion:
My SMART stands for:
- Situational — Recognising that goals are always formed within a particular context, under particular conditions. Recognising that those conditions are likely to change and that might change the nature of the goal, maybe even invalidate it altogether.
- Multi-faceted — Having only one possible acceptable outcome and one way of achieving it makes it more likely that you will fail in chaotic conditions. Maintaining alternative possible goals and having alternative methods increases your chances of success. If you can make choices you can make progress.
- Adaptable — Situations change and so will you, especially as you pursue your goals. As you formulate your goals, think about how they might change over time. Make sure you can tell the difference between the elements of your objectives that are fixed and those which can be changed.
- Risk-taking — In changeable circumstances there is no certainty and no playing safe. There are always going to be risks. You can try to anticipate them, but you won’t be able to predict them all. Knowing that you are taking risks whatever you do, can enable you to choose more ambitious goals.
- Transformational — Pursuing any goal involves making a journey. Along that journey you will encounter new experiences, meet new people. You will discover new things about yourself and about the world. The more ambitious your goals, the more you are likely to change. Don’t just think about what you would like to achieve through your goals. Think about who you would like to be — but be prepared for surprises.
As a version in the context that the business environment is in continuous flux. This approach says something about the culture in which the goals or objectives are being agreed/ set.
Attitude, Skill, Knowledge – or is it habit?
While trainers, OD, HRD or change agents keep “tinkering” with these and other approaches, then our client, the people we work with will remain confused and bored with the approach. Our goal is to use a tool often enough (assuming it works) not for entertainment but as a learning aid.Repetition is king when it comes to learning and transfer of knowledge. When a person has repeated the behaviour enough time the behaviour will become unconscious, and at that point the user is no longer bored of it – they just do it. Many of us as children were bored practicing to tie a tie, or learn piano, but once we had “mastered” it, the task was easy and no-longer a chore. SMART or more accurately objective setting in a way our people can understand is the goal. If year after year we fail to communicate this who is at fault… the model, the learner or us as the communicator?
Well we know the model works – otherwise so many people would not write about it. The learner has learnt many things – so its not them… who does that leave?
It’s not necessarily up to us to change the message (SMART) but the WAY in which we communicate it. As the old saying goes a poor workman always blames his tools.