SMART goals

In the Professionalism for Engineers course that is from last year given at our University, the 2nd-year students now have discussed SMART goals.

Professionalism for Engineers

Professionalism for Engineers (Ingenjörsprofessionalism) is a big, and small scope. Or perhaps a small course with big scope and ambitions. The details of the course as such can be found on the course pages (in Swedish). The topics as such are kind of old, but the way we apply them at our university are new (for us). Fresh students, second-year students, and third-year students take the obligatory course together, but on different levels/scopes as they climb the educational ladder. There are a variety of tasks that the student should do to pass the course. One of them is to meet in seminars and have a dialog.


In the dialogs we meet and discuss texts that the students have prepared before the seminar. Typically a single A4 page with a story relating to a topic. The story is either reflecting your own behavior, a trend, a specific situtation that you have encountered, thoughts, ideas, discussions, etc. More or less anything within certain boundaries – a framework. Typically a four-hour session. As inspiration to the text you would also be provided with some kind of other literature, video, audio. The concept is invented by Bo Göranzon and also in practice at academic institutes as well as companies of varying sizes. My own interpretation of the concept – in short – is how do we transfer knowledge from one individual to another. And especially the knowledge that cannot be explained in written text in a convenient way. There are many, many more aspects to it, but I’ll leave to you to digest further.

SMART goals

Anyway, one of the topics of today’s discussions was how to set up goals and how to achieve them. For example, Reggie Rivers’ TED Talk.

SMART goals (or criteria) stands for [Copied text from Wikipedia]:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

and please continue the reading from that source for more detailed descriptions. I think however the criteria are quite self-explanatory.

The Space Programme


I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth

So, let’s look at Kennedy’s goal:

  • Specific. Yes, it is quite specific… An area of improvement: space travel to the moon.
  • Measurable. I guess putting down a flag on the moon and take a couple of photos and then bring some sand back is good enough to show results.
  • Assignable. The American nation, i.e., NASA.
  • Realistic. I guess this is where the NASA guys got a bit worried…
  • Time-related. Kennedy clearly indicates within “this decade”, i.e., 1960’s

In his speech, and short sentence above, he almost covered all criteria of the SMART goal.

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