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Setting SMART Sustainability Goals for a Stronger 2019

It’s the end of the year… and that means resolutions, goal-setting, and all that good let’s-get-ready-for-2019 stuff. While we’re bettering ourselves, it’s timely to revisit how we approach our sustainability plans.

Let’s be SMARTer about the way we plan out our ESG initiatives. By leveraging SMART (Specific, Measurabl(…e), Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal setting, you can be more precise about what goals you set and, more importantly, why you are trying to achieve these measures of success.

What exactly are you trying to achieve? Sometimes, we take a “check the box” approach to sustainability. Being specific about the desired outcome, approach to get there, and timeframe will help ensure your sustainability program is purposeful, efficient, and moving forward.

As our company’s favorite adage goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So, make sure you develop goals that can be tracked. Even qualitative goals can be given measurable KPIs to determine success.

Is this goal something your organization can actually attain? Setting ambitious goals like Salesforce or City of San Diego will push the envelope, but it may also serve as a distraction. When setting really ambitious goals, create mini goals and milestones underneath. Using metrics (see point above), you’ll discover whether that BIG goal is achievable or if a new target should be set.

How does this goal contribute to the big picture of your organization’s ESG programming and overall business priorities? Continue asking yourself this question throughout the goal-setting exercise.

If the goal does not add value, reassess the purpose of the goal and how it could be reframed to align better.

Make sure your goal can be attained in a reasonable time frame – and give yourself a deadline. Without having a timeline to deliver your program, it’s easier to delay progress and put it on the back-burner. Adding timelines, and (don’t miss this) holding yourself accountable to those timelines, will help move the project forward.

SMART ESG Leadership by Prologis

Let’s assess Prologis’s environmental stewardship: Prologis integrated the importance of ESG factors into larger strategic business decisions, which gives the sustainability team more power to make bigger changes at the company.

One SMART goal is to have 200 megawatts of solar installations across the portfolio by 2020. This goal is SMART because it is:

  • Specific: This goal specifically states the desired outcome in order to consider the effort a success.
  • Measurable: The team has metrics it can track and analyze towards achieving this goal. Better yet, metrics that give visibility into additional action needed if necessary.
  • Attainable: Before announcing the goal publicly, the sustainability team analyzed the likelihood of success.
  • Relevant: This goal is in line with other efforts that the company has pursued as it works to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and larger impact on the environment.
  • Timely: The team is working to achieve this goal by 2020. Since the goal is measurable, it can be tracked to ensure the team is on track to meet the goal by the set timeline.

The team was 88% of the way towards completing its solar installation goal at the end of 2017, and intends to meet the goal by 2020.

Leverage the SMART goal-setting approach to work smarter, not harder, this year.

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