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Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the phrase “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” in 1994 when they published their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. BHAGs (pronounced bee-hag) aren't your ordinary goals. They are the kind of goals that launch companies into a realm way beyond a point ever imagined possible.
If you want to put your competition way behind you, then you need to incorporate a BHAG in your life. Let's explore how and why.
What are BHAGs?
Simply put, a BHAG is a long-term goal that changes the very nature of your business's existence. The goal needs to be one that is designed to be long-term yet create an urgency to get it done. The goal isn't meant to be easily attained, as are most goals. Most BHAGs are meant to be achieved within a period of 10-25 years.
These are the type of goals that will have others looking at you like you have lost your mind. They are so unexpected and you can't be completely sure you will make it. In fact, without changes, you won't.
Everyone within your company must feel motivated to work toward this end. It should create passion and focus within the company. Each person has a part in making this goal a reality and they need to understand what their role is in this undertaking. There is a clear finish line and everyone will know when that line has been reached.
In order to understand big hairy audacious goals, you need to understand what is referred to as the Hedgehog Concept.
The Hedgehog Concept
Hedgehogs are simple creatures that understand what they do best and are laser-focused on doing that one thing. The hedgehog concept takes this into account. When you use this concept to understand what is necessary for a successful BHAG, you understand that the goal must be laser-focused. You can't scatter your energy, but instead must be sure that everything you do is a means to move forward toward your goal.
When determining the goal, think about what you do best and make that the basis for your BHAG. For example, if you are good at inventing things that solve problems, use that skill to create a goal. Don't scatter your energies. Do one thing and do it big!
How Do BHAGs Differ From Traditional Goals
One of the biggest differences between BHAGs and traditional goals is the mere scope of the goal. Traditional goals are ones that, with a bit of effort, you and everyone else know you can achieve.
Say you want to open up your own food truck. That is easily done with a bit of work and investment. On the other hand, owning a chain of restaurants that have locations in every corner of the world is a BHAG. That is something that can't happen overnight. It is ambitious and scary. It requires focus and stepping way outside your comfort zone.
There is room for traditional goals within your BHAG. In fact, you need to break down your BHAG into many sub-goals in order to work steadily toward the big picture and measure your progress.
Why Organizations Should Strive for BHAGs
Organizations should strive for BHAGs if they want to grow and become leaders in their industry. This type of goal has many benefits to both the company and those who work within the company.
Important Components of a BHAG
There are some things that are important to do to create your own BHAG and make sure you achieve it.
- Make it BIG. This is no time for mediocre. You need to strive for the top of the world.
- Pick a deadline.
- Journal your progress. Having something to look back on to help you adjust your path along the way is important.
- Visualize your end. Keep that picture always in your mind.
- Break it down into smaller goals that can help you measure progress and realize smaller successes along the way. They will help keep your spirit up and make sure your focus remains steady.
- Step out of your comfort zone. You can't achieve something this huge by staying where you are or doing the same things. You need to think and act outside any boxes.
- Stick with it. Remember, this is something that will take from 10-25 years to reach. You can't become impatient or go off onto detours.
Big Hairy Audacious Goal Examples
Now, let’s take a look at some of the more famous examples of BHAGs and then look at a few more ideas that can help get your own juices flowing.
Famous BHAG Examples
1. Microsoft set out to “Put a computer on every desk in every home”.
2. Kennedy and NASA set out to “Put a man on the Moon” Now NASA has a BHAG of colonizing Mars in the not-to-distant future.
3. Amazon set out to make available “Any book, in any language, available in less than a minute.”
4. Netflix set out to move from simply renting out DVDs to become the first streaming service in the world.
5. Walmart set out to “Become a $125 billion company by the year 2000.” It is highly likely they have created yet another BHAG since reaching that goal.
Ideas for your own BHAGs
6. Transform your company from a simple manufacturer of mobility devices to the inventor and the first all-terrain wheelchair that changes the lives of millions.
7. Create a non-profit that comes up with a cure for a major disease such as Parkinson's or Arthritis.
8. Turn your art gallery into the best known gallery in the world. One that all the top artists fight to have their pieces displayed it.
9. Become a billion dollar company within twenty years. Some of the largest companies got their starts on kitchen tables and a BHAG.
10. Become a more recognized name than Starbucks or McDonalds. This can also work in other fields by changing it to becoming as recognized a name as McDonald's in your chosen field.
11. Turn your restaurant into the go-to caterer of world leaders and royalty throughout the world.
Final Thoughts on Big Hairy Audacious Goal Examples and Ideas
One thing you need to do in order to create the perfect big hairy audacious goal is be true to your passion and inner core values. Take a minute to check out this article on discovering your core values to get started.
Some people consider BHAGs as no more than pipe dreams, but with the proper mindset and a plan of action, you can reach these goals. Keep your ultimate goal in mind, excite the passions of those who can help you reach that goal, and don't give up.
You just may find that as your business edges ever closer to reaching your BHAG, you may want to create some personal goals for your life to live the best year possible!
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.