SMART Items helps a group of people give a second look at and adjust their action items to make them easier to understand and know when they should be done.

Running the activity:

1. Pick-up one action item previously identified, discuss with the team, and take notes for each of the following:
*    Specific – define the specific area for improvement.
*    Measurable – determine a clear indicator of completion.
*    Assignable – specify who will do it.
*    Realistic – state which results can realistically be achieved.
*    Time-bound – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

2. Repeat for all action items.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym created in 1981 by George T. Doran : 

“There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.” [1]


It was originally used for giving criteria to guide the setting of management goals and objectives. But since its creation it has been widely used in many contexts, such as retrospective action items.

Typically, teams will struggle to complete action items that are not SMART. This activity helps better frame the items so they are accomplishable.


Remote-team advice: This activity works well for remote teams. Use the tool of your choice to share and track the items.


[1]    DORAN, G. T. There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review (AMA FORUM) 70 (11): 35–36, 1981.