SMART objectives may be appropriate for short-term planning, research and evaluation activities. However, are they the best way to think about social change goals in which wicked problems may require broad-based, long-term, structural and policy change?
Caitlin Stanton makes the case that Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound objectives may be a box that many social entrepreneurs and social marketers need to climb out of to be more effective in realizing their social change goals. She proposes RISKY goals to complement SMART ones.
Rights-based: acknowledging basic human equality and dignity, working for structural change rather than taking a charitable approach,
Inspirational: they inspire others to get involved, they can unite broad-based movements,
Sustainable: rather than attainable in the near term, we know this is a “long-haul” venture, and work toward these goals must be sustained over time,
Knowledge-based: strategy is still based on good data and good learning about social change, and rather than neatly fitting into a reporting window, these kinds of goals may take Years to achieve.
RISKY may be anathema to many organizations; fear of criticism is certainly a motivation to avoid just uttering the word in a planning meeting - "We don't need or want risky, thank you!"
I believe that there is a group of you who want to take the chance of aspiring to RISKY objectives and not settle for the SMART box. What are your RISKY objectives? How did you overcome the costs of fear?