SMART or CUTE - What makes a good target?

Peter Bridgewater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Is a target a goal? What is an indicator? Targets, or goals, are the desired outcomes of a policy framework; they show where we want to be and represent the successful implementation of policy. To get there, a mission is needed, but all too often this is confused with targets, goals and vision. Good targets need good indicators to measure success along the way. However, indicators are often left aside from target setting, a self-defeating strategy and one regrettably followed by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002 and again in 2010 in setting global targets for reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity. Embracing a highly aspirational target (i.e. reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010) is easy, but measuring the success of that target is the tricky bit! SMART targets are well known, but CUTE targets (Comprehensive, Understandable, Time-bound and Enabling) can be more effective in public policy setting. Often in public policy, the focus is all on process and outputs, and all too rarely on outcomes. Targets can capitalize on the input from policy, but must be informed by potential indicators from the outset and, in the end, must also enable policy delivery and refreshed outcomes, a critical failing of the 2010 target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-249
Number of pages10
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


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