There's nothing wrong with the facts of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, except that together they tend towards mediocrity.
Even GIANT goals can benefit from being specific. I am going to be rich
is not as specific as I will have over a million dollars in my bank account by my 40th birthday.
But how many people will have a million dollars in the bank by the time they are 40? One can argue that it is Specific, Measurable and Timely, but not very Realistic, and not very Achievable.
President Kennedy's 1961 GIANT goal of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth" by the end of the decade, was Specific, Measurable and Timely but certainly not Realistic and not even remotely Achievable, considering the knowledge of the day.
Also, any unknown speaker who has tried to get hired to speak to groups of, say, 50 people or more, will tell you getting hired for one speech or more every day for 90 days, is impossible. It is certainly not Realistic. Speaking for an hour or two is also an extremely exhausting undertaking. Speaking, non-stop, for several hours a day for 90 days straight, is hardly achievable, for most peoples' throats.
And, as for Wilma Rudolph, her goal was to be the fastest female runner in the world, when she was crippled with polio. The specificity (fractions of a second) came later; the measurements came later; the achievability came much later; being realistic never happened even up to the start of the last Olympic race; and her goal contained no time element whatsoever.
My point is - and clearly expressed with Wilma Rudolph - SMART goals will have you limiting yourself to only what can be specified, only what can be measured, to what is considered achievable at the time of making the goal and no attempt to achieve the unrealistic and impossible will ever be made.
If mankind was to limit itself to what is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, we would still be living in the stone age. That is not to say these attributes should be ignored. It means that these are practical consideration to apply to actual events on your way to success.
I think you hit the nail on the head, Dan, when you mentioned planning. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely are attributes best applied to planning, not goalsetting.
And that is how this SMART / GIANT debate can be best used in small business - GIANT goals - SMART planning.