are your sustainability targets SMART?

are your sustainability targets SMART?

Sent Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome to the Green Guide, the monthly newsletter published by

Greener Museums. I hope you had a happy New Year!


January has been very busy so far, as I prepare to

launch some new programs and products with several new clients. I

always find this an exciting time of year, full of promise.


Are you setting SMART targets?


The month of January is a popular time to set goals. Of course, as

most people know, many of these goals are forgotten by the end of

February. Why does this happen? Well, there are a number of reasons

but certainly one of the main reasons is that people don’t set

goals that are SMART. They set goals that are vague, irrelevant, or

without a deadline. This month’s feature article will help you to

apply the criteria you need to make your targets successful.


To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums



Here’s what’s in this issue:


* Feature Article: Are you setting SMART targets?

* Research Survey: Help Museum Retail Go Green

* About Rachel Madan


Best wishes,

Rachel Madan


Director of Greener Museums




Feature Article: Are Your Sustainability Targets SMART?




How many of these statements have you heard this year? “I want to

lose weight.” “I want to have more fun.” “I want to be happier.”

Now, how many of these goals do you think will be achieved? Not to

be a pessimist, but I don’t think many of those stated goals will

be achieved. The reason is that none of these goals fit the SMART



What does this have to do with sustainability? Well, the same rules

apply when you are setting sustainability targets for your

organization. In order to succeed, you must set targets that are



What are SMART targets? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable,

Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Let’s go through each one.


Specific. “Making our organization more sustainable” is not very

specific. What exactly do you want to DO? Don’t make your goal so

large as to encompass everything. “Getting more sustainable” is

heading in the right direction, but is not specific enough for our

purposes. A good test is to see if someone completely new to the

idea will understand it. Do they understand what you are setting

out to achieve?


Measurable. How will you know when you’ve achieved your target?

Quantitative measures like carbon footprint, tonnage or volume of

waste, or electricity use are always good places to start. But

don’t ignore qualitative measures like visitor or staff

satisfaction, or reputation. You can include these kinds of measures

in your target, too.


Achievable. Think big, but don’t think unrealistically. In target

setting, we are not trying to stretch the boundaries of our

thinking– that’s more for a visioning exercise. So ensure that you

will be able to at least get close to achieving your target. If you

don’t have enough resources to achieve your target you can either

scale back your target or try and get the resources you need.


Relevant. Does your target resonate with your mission

and values? Staff will be motivated to achieve targets when they

can see how they support their work. So make sure that you

link your target to what you are trying to achieve as an

organization. And if you can’t, your target probably isn’t that

relevant to your organization.


Time-Bound. When do you want to achieve your target? This is really

important, as a goal which cannot be measured cannot be achieved.

So make sure you put in a time limitation. It could be six months,

a year, or longer– but there must be a moment in time when you

will check in to see if you did what you set out to do.