Friday, June 1, 2012

The SMART cycle, by Alison Wood

“Stop that project IMMEDIATELY. I want you to start this brand new one. You have TWO WEEKS to prepare, plan and execute a marketing campaign for this project. I want the world to know about it within these two weeks and you MUST generate 50 leads in this time. Every week there-after you MUST generate 20 new leads. Make sure you DO NOT fall behind on your OTHER 10 PROJECTS. - BEGIN, NOW.”

Hang on…did I hear that correctly? Unfortunately, yes I did. Well, I used to hear that once every two weeks or so, until the company fell on it’s butt because of many things including extremely bad project management. Being on the receiving end of this tonne of pressure makes a team member stressed and unable to ever complete a project, within the given time-frame and available resources. This results in low confidence, self loathing, WORK loathing, sleep deprived, resentful, angry and sometimes crazy employees.

There are many things I want to highlight here (including the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship between management and staff members) but the main one is the good old SMART objectives, or lack-of, in this case.

Lets highlight the all important SMART objectives of this particular project brief…


The specific goal should answer all of these questions:
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Well we knew what we had to accomplish, something tells me that the “Why” question was driven by the answer of “££££££££££££££££”, “Me, myself and I” were the unfortunate people involved, “Where” – I’m guessing I would sit at my desk with my head in my hands while I completed this and “Which” – there didn’t seem to be any constraints to completing this goal. This should be a walk in the park!


A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

“You MUST generate 50 leads in two weeks, then 20 per week there-after” Well, at least that was all pretty clear.


An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
  • How: How can the goal be accomplished?

See this is one I couldn’t really work out. Hmm.


A relevant goal can answer YES to these questions:
  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person?

This project has appeared out of the blue, not only do we have time constraints as a challenge but also a current project that has experienced failure and would need closure, evaluation etc etc. There are other projects that need our attention.


A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
  • When?
  • What can I do 6 months from now?
  • What can I do 6 weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Two weeks. That’s 5 leads a day. 5 leads a day in a world that knows nothing about this project. There’s only 3 hours left of today, that means it’s now 1.66 leads by the end of today. Argh.

Are you still wondering what happened to this particular project and if it went ahead? Well, I’ll tell you it did. Most times it went ahead, whether there were leads or not. Money was spent and time wasted on projects that were set up to fail, with no contingency plan or even common sense it seemed! We dragged every poor person through this until a few weeks into the project we’d hear:

“Stop that project IMMEDIATELY. I want you to start this brand new one.”

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Alison Wood is an enthusiastic digital marketer, graphic designer and artist. With a background in textiles and fashion marketing, Alison decided to pursue her career within the education & training sector and is now a trainee SEO at Knowledge Train, a London based PRINCE2 training provider offering online courses worldwide.

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