Project Management

Better than SMART, Set CLEAR Goals

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

Goals can be too vague to be helpful such as “improve quality” or too large to be meaningful like “create a new product that doubles revenue in three months” or so specific that they feel more like a checklist than a goal: “deliver project X on Y date.” Over time, many of us have moved to creating more helpful, meaningful goals using SMART statements: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. SMART goals are a big improvement in setting direction and understanding if teams are achieving them. If you aren’t familiar with the SMART approach, there are plenty of articles that can help you learn more about it. It’s worth the research if you haven’t done so already.

But there is a difference between how SMART goals work, and how an agile team would like to operate. An agile team would like to have the flexibility to “discover” goals along the way or adapt and adjust their targets as they learn more information. While SMART is an excellent framework, and certainly better than most, it isn’t flexible enough for what today’s agile teams are looking to do. In thinking about goals, I discovered a new framework, created by Adam Kreek, using the acronym CLEAR. This method is not in conflict with traditional goal setting, but it leans much further into the agile mindset and attitudes that teams are attempting to live in today’s environment.

Before we look at Kreek’s …

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"All generalizations are dangerous, even this one."

- Alexandre Dumas