Big Dreams and SMART Goals

Above the Clouds

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) differentiate stellar companies, says Jim Collins in his timeless classic, Good to Great. They’re also the things that drive business marketers nuts.

How can a big dream become attainable and time bound?

In Welcome to the Fifth Estate we talk about SMART goals (chapter authored by Kami Huyse), and in Marketing in the Round we add the ER (evaluate and reevaluate) to discuss SMARTER goals (brought to the conversation by co-author Gini Dietrich). SMART/ER Goals focus on Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound objectives.

BHAGs and SMART goals don’t have to conflict with each other. From the strategist’s perspective, far from it.

Great companies do incredible things. They don’t just innovate, they also dominate markets AND achieve fantastic measurable outcomes.

One of my favorite leaders in this sense is Turnaround King Alan Mullaly, who mandated BHAGs for both Boeing with the Dreamliner 777, and Ford in making it a viable American car company again. He put forth big dreams, and demanded measurable progress towards those goals.

Do you think lead executives let a measurement pro tell them no? Far from it, they tell the measurement pro to build key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate whether or not they are on track to achieve the big goal. It’s part of the strategy.


Anna Chakvetadze Serves

Let me give you a personal example. In the next five years, I want to run and entire or a component of a communications program for a major sport championship event. Some how, some way whether it’s the World Cup, the Olympics, a World Series, etc. this is my goal.

How do I get there? And is this even attainable given my professional history?

I think it is, but credibility remains the biggest issue. Though I have worked with several major consumer brands, and as a consultant lobbied to bring Major League Baseball to Washington, DC, helped White & Partners win their initial campaign with the rebranded Washington Nationals, and assisted the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation in co-marketing with Give to the Max Day, my sports marketing track record remains thin.

So I need to get develop a portfolio of sports marketing efforts, even if its through third parties such as consumer brands or cause marketing. To do that I need to build relationships.

My work with Human Equity is one vehicle for that. Attending sports marketing conferences over the next year is another. Finally, I will start participating in more sports marketing conversations online via social media.

In all my SMARTER Goal to help me attain this dream, I’d like to develop 10 legitimate contacts with major sports brands in the next calendar year, and work on at least two sports marketing campaigns in that period.

I will evaluate progress each quarter and make course corrections as necessary. I may even pull the plug if progress against my KPIs looks doubtful.

Notice that these three actions and the corresponding SMARTER goals of 10 and 2 within a year don’t involve a major championship. What they do is put me in position to achieve my BHAG.

What do you think? Can big dreams and SMART/ER goals co-exist?