How to be SMART and CLEAR in Planning

The art of planning can sometimes seem like a complicated and complex environment. Where does one begin with the planning phase? Which stakeholders should be involved? What objectives should be concluded and in what order should these be achieved?

Fortunately, there are some great techniques one can use in order to simplify the planning process and in fact, any task whether related to business or life in general.
These methods are utilised in project management and planning in order to establish the correct goals. One of these techniques is well-known in the business world and is articulated in the form of an easy-to-remember acronym.

SMART goals are:

Specific: Ensure that goals are clear, concise and detailed. The phrasing of the six ‘W’ questions become vital in making sure that the goals are specific.
Measurable: Goals should be able to be measured. This requires the phrasing of the ‘How’ question. How will this be achieved?
Attainable: Goals should be realistic and possible to achieve.
Relevant: Ensure that there is relevance in achieving these goals, as related to          the needs and long term strategy of the organisation.
Time-bound: There should be a defined starting point and ending point.
An additional tool that can be used in simplifying objectives and goals is to focus on being CLEAR. This approach is relatively new in the market and has been formulated to align with agile work environments that are now being seen in the business world.


Collaborative: Goals that encourage participation from employees and their teams provide a platform for different voices to be heard.
Limited: In addition to goals having a start and end point, they also need to be limited in terms of scope.
Emotional: Goals should be of the kind which promote a sense of passion and energy from stakeholders involved.
Appreciable: In this context, goals should be broken down into parts, in order to simplify and make sense of more complicated goals.
Refinable: Environments may change and the art of adapting and being agile is vital in achieving goals. Therefore, goals should be refined to ensure that the project is on the right course.
The success of an organisation is built on setting clear goals, those which are simple to follow, realistic in its approach and follows clearly defined scope and timelines.
Economy (2015) states “When you set a goal, whether in business, career, or life, it must be a clear and compelling statement–one that can be built out, embraced, and acted upon by every member of the team.

In conclusion, when initiating a plan, it is imperative to ensure that there is a clear road map. The road map should then have specific ‘stops’ which highlight the defined and specific goals.

Keep it SMART and keep it CLEAR!
Compiled by Storm Thomas: June 2016

Peter Economy. 2015. Forget SMART Goals — Try CLEAR Goals Instead. [ONLINE] Available at:
[Accessed 20 June 2016].
Smartsheet. 2016. Comprehensive Guide to the 5 Phases of Project Management. [ONLINE] Available at: 
[Accessed 20 June 2016].
Top Achievement. 2016. Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals. [ONLINE] Available at:

[Accessed 20 June 2016].