The guest post below comes to us from David Burkus. You can read his daily work at
What “wins” have you celebrated recently?
The other day I was involved in a huge debate over SMART objectives. This clever acronym was developed, and then grossly over-used, to describe a criteria for effective goal setting. Simply put, objectives ought to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Our argument centered around the measureable element. My debate foe argued that this meant all objectives had to have a numbered component. Whereas I argued, quite deftly, that a “Yes or No” objective counted as measureable. If you set a goal like become the top ranked office in the region, then you’re measurement is built in: you either did it or didn’t do it.
After reminding him that a “Yes or No” objective could be considered a binary numbering system, I realized the problem with SMART objectives. In an attempt to clarify goal setting, the anonymous authors of this daft acronym actually mudded the waters. Most who bow down at the alter of SMART do so only after vigorous debate about what objectives are SMART, or even what SMART stands for.
I prefer a much simpler test of valuable objectives: the champagne test.
In the champagne test, you set an objective and then test its value by asking “how will our people know when to crack open the champagne?” In essence, you ask how we know if we hit our objective. Consider one of the most renowned objectives of the past century: JFK’s 1961 call to “put a man on the moon.” One can debate whether this goal was SMART, but one can not challenge the certainty of knowing when to pop open the cork.
(Copious thanks to Chip and Dan Heath for introducing me to the concept of the champagne test.)