Blog Post

When VAGUE is Better than SMART

Mike Carden

Vice President Small Business Operations

Remember SMART objectives? Specific, measurable, attainable...repressive...tedious...?

There’s another goal setting strategy to consider. VAGUE. Know what you want to achieve, but don’t map out how you’re going to get there.

It worked for Picasso: "You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea." After all, every masterpiece started off as a vague sketch.

Mix it up!

We aren’t suggesting all goals should be VAGUE. SMART’s still important but sometimes it’s nice to let loose, to not have endless meetings and planning sessions and detailed criteria. VAGUE’s about letting your subconscious take charge and getting the creative juices flowing...

Try mixing it up: combine a bunch of typical SMART goals with a really stimulating VAGUE goal. You might be amazed at the great ideas that materialize.

Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy...

It’s harder to be focused when you’re being VAGUE (and it’s harder for a manager to measure progress and achievement) but it’s worth the extra effort if you get revolutionary results.

The origins of many of the greatest ever business outcomes are vague. You know generally what you want to achieve (build a better mousetrap?) and you put a lot of effort into it, but if you try to pigeonhole it too early you ruin it. Sometimes you just need the vision and the guts to go with the flow.

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