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How to Use SMART Goals Smarter

SMART GoalsHow do you define the SMART acronym? Wikipedia lists several possibilities for defining the acronym. I saw this one 5 years ago: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-phased. People often agree on the first three and differ a bit more on “R” and “T.” I like to use Realistic and Timely, but the gist is the same.

Use SMART Goals in EOS

EOS is a big fan of SMART goals. We call them Rocks. We set them and review them every 90 days with an objective of achieving our annual goals 90 days at a time. We also check their status weekly. There should be SMART goals for your company, your leadership team and ultimately everyone in your business.


There’s an important difference between SMART goals (and MBOs) and Rocks. Rocks, in the EOS use of the term, are a constrained set of goals. In most small businesses there is never enough time, money and people to do all the things that need to get done, even if they are defined in a SMART manner. So EOS teaches that Rocks are the 3-7 most important goals for the 90-day period immediately in front of you. It is true at the company level, the department level, and the individual level.

EOS also teaches that the achievement of these Rocks is not a contest. It is not pitting one department against another. It is imperative that everyone acts for the greater good of the company. The Company Rocks set by the executive leadership team are the most important goals by definition. Every executive is obliged to not only accomplish the Rocks they own, but to help all of the members of the leadership team accomplish theirs.

How do you set goals for your company and your leadership team?

Next Steps

3 thoughts on “How to Use SMART Goals Smarter”

  1. Chiming in….while a fan of “SMART” – I like the R to be “RELEVANT” vs. “REALISTIC” (as I believe that is covered by Achievable/Attainable)…. Is this GOAL something that is relevant to the “Big Picture”. If not – put it in the parking lot, and get back to your “ROCKS”…. Goals should inspire, and be in line with your core values.

  2. In your renaming of R & T, what is the significant difference between Realistic & Achievable? Don’t they already have to be realistic in order to be achievable? I actually like & use Relevant because it’s an engagement factor, both short & long term. It falls under the category of the storytelling concept that is both engaging & better supports buy-in / accountability on the cascade planning process. I’m assuming your Timely is inline with just in time & aligns better with priorities, than a mere exercise of setting time-bound activities that may not necessarily meet the cross-functional needs of an organization. Thanks for sharing & looking forward to your clarification, maining of Realistic.

  3. I’m with Kevin on this one. If a metric isn’t relevant then it doesn’t support your vision and I don’t care that it’s specific, measurable, achievable and time-based – because it’s irrelevant!


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