Monday, October 24, 2011

Performance Improvement Tip of the Day: SMART Goals

Setting up a successful initiative starts with creating a SMART goal.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

I star
t first with Timely to ensure that the initiative you are picking is going to be of interest to others in the organization at the current time.
  • Timeliness results in interest, which in turn leads to support, which ensures that you will have backing to resolve difficult issues when they arise.

Next identify something Specific about the initiative that you would like to achieve.
  • Instead of the broad goal of “improve care of heart failure patients” it would bring more clarity to the team to say “improve accurate dissemination of discharge information to 95%”.
  • For clinical initiatives, it is helpful to pick a metric that has ample evidence in the literature to support its implementation. This helps to generate the buy-in required to make an initiative successful.
Ensure that your specific goal is measurable.
  • Success is unlikely unless you can measure where you start, where you end, and all waypoints in between.
  • Even subjective experiences can be measured through the use of surveys.
  • Auditing can be used as a technique to generate reasonable sample sizes when the entire population of study is too large.
Attainable and Realistic go hand-in-hand.
  • This is a time for a reality check. The goals need to stretch the limits for the team, but still need to be attainable within the scope of the institution’s resources, within a defined amount of time.
This tool is "simple", but it takes repetitive applications before you can really understand how it helps to drive performance. Practice makes perfect!

I want to thank my friends and colleagues Brian Stancampiano and Michael Hauser from the Quality Solutions Team at Sanofi Aventis for recently reminding me about the power of this tool.

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