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Introducing SMART Objectives

What are SMART objectives? Why and how are they useful? Find out from Dr Peaks Krafft in this article.
an illustration conveying the smart objectives with the word SMART written out inside yellow circles per letter.
© Creative Computing Institute

In the last step, you heard from the course contributors about some broad approaches to planning. In this step we will look at planning in more detail.

Now that you have selected an issue for your campaign and developed an initial power map, the next step is to develop clear objectives. We draw on a common organisational practice used in a range of industries and contexts called SMART objective-setting. ‘SMART’ stands for:

  • Specific: The goal should be very precise with no room for misinterpretation.
  • Measurable: The goal should be quantifiable, and progress should be easy to track.
  • Achievable: The goal should be attainable — not outlandish or unrealistic.
  • Relevant: The goal should contribute to your broader, overarching goals.
  • Time-bound: The goal should have a defined start and end date [1]

The idea is to set objectives that are clear enough that they can guide the actions you will brainstorm and the timelines you will draw. SMART objectives can be used for evaluating your progress, successes and set-backs, but they can also be used just for guidance rather than evaluation. The purpose of setting objectives is to guide strategic action and to feel good about what you have accomplished, not to feel sad or like a failure when an objective is not met. An important component of keeping motivated is to periodically reassess your objectives to ensure you are always setting goals you can meet, and which accurately reflect what you can be most proud of in your campaign. Learning and connecting can always be counted as objectives and are often the key results of many efforts.

For example, using the same case studies as in Week 1, let’s start by looking at the employee surveillance campaign: The broad issues in this campaign are privacy and workplace rights, and my specific goal is understanding and resisting methods of surveilling workers used by my employer. Progress on this campaign could include identifying one method of surveillance at my workplace, and establishing a relationship with one ally in my workplace to join and openly discuss the campaign. These outcomes can then be transformed into SMART objectives such as:

  1. To have identified one method of surveillance being used at my workplace within 1 month.
  2. To have held at least one campaign meeting with at least one co-worker within 1 month.

Next, looking at the #VisibleWomenWiki campaign: The broad issues in this campaign are movement building and the amplification of women’s profiles on Wikipedia, and my specific goal is to increase documentation of women computer science PhDs from the 60s and 70s. Progress on this campaign could include obtaining and uploading images of these women to Wikimedia Commons as called for by the #VisibleWomenWiki campaign. These outcomes can then be transformed into SMART objectives such as:

  1. To have identified at least two women PhDs from the 60s or 70s who do not have high quality profile pictures on Wikipedia within 1 week.
  2. To have obtained an image with a suitable licence for each woman within 1 month.
  3. To have uploaded two images to Wikimedia Commons within 6 weeks.

In the next step, we’ll ask you to set your own SMART objectives. For now, share in the discussion below any initial thoughts you have on the process. Does it seem helpful to identify your objectives using this method?


Thomas J Law, 2021. 10 Powerful Smart Goal Examples To Help You Achieve Your Dreams

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