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What’s YOUR BHAG?

2 weeks ago


With Hallowe’en season upon us again, I thought I’d write about something a bit scary – the BHAG, or “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal”, to give it its full name. The term BHAG was coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. A great BHAG can build a strong team spirit, foster innovation and really stretch you and your team to perform at the highest levels, and achieve so much more than you ever imagined you could!

So what exactly IS a BHAG?

In their book, Collins and Porras describe a great BHAG as a 10 to 25 year compelling goal that stretches your company to achieve greatness. But it should also be scary and get you well out of your comfort zone.  The best BHAGs are huge, daunting tasks that initially don’t seem possible – something like climbing Mount Everest!

Here are some examples of BHAGs of some businesses and individuals:

  • Blackpool FC: “Reach English Premier League”
  • Nike (1960’s): “Crush Adidas”
  • Elon Musk: “I’ll put a man on Mars in 10 years”
  • Volvo: “By 2020, no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.”

So, do you already have a BHAG? That probably depends on why you started your own business in the first place. If it was to get away from a bad employer, to make a living doing something you love, or just to have more flexibility in your work arrangements, you maybe haven’t got a big goal for the business.

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If you started your business because you wanted to do something different and make your mark on the world, you may well have had a big goal at one time. However, over the years, it may have been swept under the carpet, as the daily challenges of running a business took over and other priorities emerged.

To BHAG, or Not to BHAG

The truth is, many business owners I come across have either forgotten what their big goal is, or had no idea in the first place. Well, maybe now’s the time to get out of your comfort zone and face up to your own BHAG! But before you do, you may be asking, why would I need a BHAG? How do I start to identify the right BHAG for me and my business? And what to I do with my BHAG, once I’ve got it? Well, I will endeavour to answer all these questions below!

BHAG benefits

Having a big goal to shoot for has the following benefits for your business:

  • It can bring your team together to collaborate in trying to achieve what initially seems to be a very daunting task;
  • It gives a clear finish line, which motivates people and lets them know when they have achieved the goal;
  • It encourages an environment of innovation and agility in the business, as people meet new challenges and try to solve new problems;
  • It brings energy, interest and excitement to the business and makes it a great place to work.
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Developing an inspiring and enduring BHAG probably isn’t something that you’ll be able to do in one day.  It’s more of a process, and you need to take the time to collaborate with your team, get feedback and reflect on the goal (and probably revise it a few times) before you commit to it. Don’t forget, your BHAG will form part of the strategic direction for your business for years to come, so you need to take the time to get it right.

The ABC of your BHAG

Here are three steps to creating, launching and delivering your company’s brilliant BHAG:

  1. Find out what the one thing is that you should be concentrating on. What is it that you could be better than anybody else at? What makes your business the most money? What is it that you are most passionate about? Focusing on what inspires your team, makes you the most money and that you can excel at should be the basis of your BHAG.
  2. Aligned with the above, your BHAG should be clear, compelling, engaging, inspiring and measurable. It needs to paint a picture of what a successful future could look like for your business, so it also needs to be descriptive.
  3. Once you’ve refined your BHAG, share it with your team, as they need to know how their input is helping to achieve the goal. Everyday opportunities and decisions should be assessed to ensure they are moving you towards achieving your BHAG. It should be a driving influence in your short and long term strategic plans.

I hope you’ve found this inspiring, and you’ve decided to take ACTION, be brave and tackle your own Big, Hairy Audacious Goal! If you need some assistance, just call us and we’d be glad to help you tackle your monster! 

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