When FAST Beats SMART: The Strategic Method to Goal Setting

Goal Setting used to be done in a conventional way. Managers hold one-on-one meetings with their subordinates to set goals. Performances are reviewed against objectives and these are linked to promotion and bonus decisions. The same managers aspire their goals to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. But this conventional wisdom of goal setting rarely asks the fundamental question – does it work? The traditional approach to goals cannot ensure successful strategy execution. An alternative is necessary.

Bullseye! In executing a strategy, leaders must set ambitious targets. This must be translated into specific metrics and milestones. It must be made transparent throughout the organization and progress are discussed frequently. SMART is what it used to be. FAST is what is today -- the FAST Method to Goal Setting.


SMART means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  It is a key underlying concept to Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives (MBO) framework.

The SMART Method is conventional wisdom of goal setting that undervalues ambition, focus narrowly on individual performance, and ignores the importance of discussing goals throughout the year.

To drive strategy execution, leaders should set goals that are FAST – Frequently discussed, Ambitious, Specific, and Transparent.

The Fast Method to Goal Setting

Goals can drive strategy execution. But this is only possible when goals are aligned with strategic priorities, account for critical interdependence across silos, and enable course corrections as circumstances change. A new approach has been pioneered that has 4 core principles for effective goals system. This is the FAST Method.

  1.  Frequently discussed
    Frequently discussed goals are focused and aligned with the strategic vision of our organization.
  2.  Ambitious
    The critical role of Ambition is to set effective goals. Ambitious goals boost the performance of individuals and teams.
  3. Specific
    Specific goals can help identify what is not working and is quickly corrected. It clarifies what employees are expected to deliver.
  4.  Transparent
    When there is transparency, goals and current performance are made public for all employees to see. This makes use of peer pressure to make everyone perform on goals.

In the spectrum, the FAST Method is here to stay. Companies in dynamic sectors are now setting goals more frequently. Setting and reviewing goals on a quarterly basis provide organizations more opportunities to make course corrections throughout the year. The world of business has become highly volatile. Dynamic sectors such as Media, Information Technology, and Financial sectors are pressured to regularly review and update their goals to be attuned with the changing environment and keep themselves on top of the race. While SMART is good, FAST is better.

The FAST Method to Goal Setting keeps companies always on the go and in control of their environment. They have set their goal on a winning streak on a fast lane where competition is at its stiffest. When things get rough, the FAST Method to Goal Setting is the way to go. It works!

Interested in gaining more understanding of the FAST Method to Goal Setting? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about FAST Method to Goal Setting  here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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