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Being SMART with NRM Performance Goals

By Caroline Mitchell

Natural resource management targets in Victoria and NSW are not specific, measurable or time-bound – and that’s not very smart.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It seems obvious that any organisation’s performance goals should be based on achievable outcomes, but planning experts go further and suggest that, to be meaningful, an organisation’s goals should be tangible and doable. To this end they need to be SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

This sounds like common sense, but how many organisations operating in the natural resource management (NRM) sector actually use SMART targets in their planning? Geoff Park, an experienced knowledge broker working in the NRM space in Victoria, and colleagues recently did a stocktake of NRM targets to test their SMARTness. What they found was disturbing.

“We looked at a specific set of targets set by catchment management authorities (CMA) in Victoria and New South Wales,” Park says. “We examined these targets through several planning cycles commencing in 1997, and our focus was on targets relating to biodiversity, water and community engagement. We ended up examining hundreds of targets documented in over 50 regional plans. And it’s worth noting these plans weren’t done in isolation; they had all been endorsed by governments at different times across the two states.”

The investigation focused on three of the five SMART categories, evaluating whether stated goals were Specific, Measurable and Time-bound. It was judged that the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.