Chuck out the SMARTs


I had to look this up. Who invented the term SMART Goals?

The acronym had first appeared in the November, 1981issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound) is commonly attributed to Management By Objectives by Peter Drucker. Thank you, Mr. Doran and Mr. Drucker, for giving organizations a framework to set goals, and allowing them to present updated versions of the same excel sheet, year after year. The system is justified, as an organization has to function within a given structure, with a given set of resources. A business entity is threatened by an uncertain business scenario outside, and multiple levels of hierarchy constraining each other inside.

But, human life should not be compared to a business firm. The human being is deemed to be the highest evolved creature in the world, Homo Sapiens that evolved from Homo Erectus. We are the realization of our predecessors’ ambitions and vision. Unfortunately, devices to record the dreams did not exist, or have been lost. I am not sure how many people record their vision in the present day and age, how many are lost unexpressed, and how many more have been ridiculed as ‘poetic imagination’.

The Self-Imposed Boundaries of Imagination

I came across a beautiful quote by Vineet Nayar, former CEO, HCL Technologies saying


It is certainty and established terminology that confines imagination and action. Why do we call a capability ‘superhuman’, when the limits of ‘human’ have not been fully explored and utilized?

superintelligence is a hypothetical agent that possesses intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human minds. “Superintelligence” may also refer to the form or degree of intelligence possessed by such an agent. (Source: Wikipedia)

  • We see recorded history as proof of the Realistic.
  • We credit ourselves with a higher intelligence and capability, and hence, extend the reality by 10, 20 or 30…….  percent (Measurable, Achievable and Time Bound).
  • The majority keeps working in that limited arena to realize the extended dreams (Specific).
  • Insecurity of ideas/credit being stolen, prevents people from sharing it, and results in loss of the consequent support from another mind, which could have validated or completed it.

The Undefined and Immeasurable

  • Newton discovered the Law of Gravity, with an apple falling on his head.
  • Archimedes jumped out of the bath in his historic Eureka moment.
  • Kekule derived the structure of the benzene molecule from his dream of a coiled serpent.

It was merely the entry of an idea, into the realms of the possible, from outside the imagined circle. As long as the devices to measure these forces are not invented, we will continue to call it ‘superhuman’ or ‘inspiration’, or whatever term can be used without inviting protests from the overzealous guardians of Logic and Reason.  The boundaries that we have constructed to define Possible are responsible for a slow acceptance of path-breaking ideas.

Let us not discard phenomena that we cannot measure or record by cognitive intelligence as ‘fluke cases’. Let us not reject outright, ideas which cannot deliver instant results. These are the seeds which might sprout to life in a congenial environment. Certain discoveries indicate that our ancestors possessed higher skills, and advanced equipment, but the same was lost to posterity. And here are we, rebuilding the world again from scratch. Let us not do this to the future denizens of the world. Scientists are working on creating genetically supreme beings. Let them not be deprived of the external structure that their predecessors created.

Idea Banks

This is a challenge for practitioners of Knowledge Management. We need an impartial agency to record ideas on various subjects, and create a centralized database with names of the contributors. No monetary value should be attached to it, to prevent the politics of stealing credit. The Guinness Book of World Records documents the execution of ideas. It glorifies people who have stretched their limits to create history.

Why can’t the same be done with thinkers? That Book of Ideas will be an invitation to the doers who can execute it, and complete the world. The symbiotic relationship will ensure continuous movement on a forward path.



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