Why Big Hairy Audacious Goals Are Most Important To Your Business
While some business goals are functional and achieving them is vital to your continued operation, others are aspirational and affirm your long-term vision for your organization. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (or BHAGs) reside in between this gap of practicality and motivation; they express achievable, yet remarkable milestones that can help drive performance and create a culture of growth and success of which others want to be part.
After interviewing dozens of successful founders, we’ve found that BHAGs often come up in conversation when talking about how those founders scaled up their business. In this article, we’ll provide you with context and understanding of BHAGs, as well as some ideas for formulating your own.
Pushing The Limits To Create New Behaviors
By breaking the 4-minute mile in 1954, Roger Bannister demonstrated that the realm of possibilities is endless; however, it’s certainly limited by our beliefs. While the 4-minute mile was thought to be an impossible feat, an interesting phenomenon was set in motion following the great sports achievement. Once the barrier was removed, it created a new belief of what's possible and paved the way for over 14,000 runners to register for sub 4-minute miles.
To bring this back into the context of your business, such a mental reset in what’s possible happens every time your team sees a new process introduced that triples productivity (e.g., a new sales record is shattered every month). These are the milestones that as leaders we must not only celebrate, but we must set for ourselves and our teams as BHAGs. The goals can serve to both inspire and create new behaviors that often unlock growth potential previously unknown.
For better or worse, by definition, goals serve to limit our efforts. What we perceive as possible becomes our ceiling; therefore, by setting goals that are below our true potential is self-limiting. BHAGs work to stir up the notion of which possibilities exist. If we can get our team to agree on pursuing a BHAG, which is both beyond the realm of what's possible today and something to reach for tomorrow, we’re painting an inspiring vision and getting a group committed to the cause.
We all come to realize that the effort will require differences from the current behavior to achieve our end. From a leadership perspective, it's important to paint an inspiring vision to gain buy-in to a group commitment.
The Power of Commitment
The power of commitment is essential for achievement. As Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of the landmark book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, stated: “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
Commitment and consistency help everyone involved to be on the same page and excited by the possibilities of pursuing BHAGs.
What are BHAGs?
The term was coined and popularized by Jim Collins, the author of the books, Good to Great and Built to Last. Collins defined a Big Hairy Audacious Goal as a clear and compelling target that an organization seeks to work toward by inspiring its employees. These goals push boundaries and challenge companies.
The other interesting thing that BHAGs do is create a sense of novelty, a fundamental need in human psychology. This is the idea that we seek to experience that which has not been previously experienced and differs from the everyday routine.
As challenging as change is for any individual or organization, building off of our basic human needs for something new, and allowing a collective group to be inspired to work together, function as two important elements that confirm why BHAGs are so powerful.
How To Create Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal
The BHAG should have a reasonable chance of being achieved ideally, it should have at least a 50% chance of success. (investopedia.com)
In his scholarship Colin explored the idea of BHAG and coupled it with what he called, the Hedgehog Concept, the intersection of the following 3 questions:
- What are you deeply passionate about?
- What can you be the best in the world at?
- And what drives your economic engine?
Answering these will help you create a focal point for your organization around which the Big Hairy Audacious Goal should center. In other words, your BHAG should be derived from the intersection of those 3 responses.
Finding this overlap of where your organization is deeply passionate, where you're the best situated in the world, and what drives your economic engine will empower you to identify and emphasize your company’s fulcrum of growth.
The Four BHAG Models
There are four BHAG models that can help you draw inspiration:
- The first is the Targeted Oriented BHAG. This is where you set a defined goal that's either quantitative or qualitative in nature. This could be a dollar amount or percentage that is related to growth or some other meaningful and clearly understood metric.
- Secondly, we have the Competitive BHAG in which you're challenging a competitor or enemy. Such a focus on a common enemy can create immediate camaraderie within your organization.
- The third is the Role Model BHAG where you adopt traits, or model another company. Typically, that is a company outside your competition, and possibly, outside your industry. However, it’s one that you admire and serves as a bit of inspiration.
- And the fourth is the Internal Transformation BHAG. In this model, like the name suggests, you focus on your own internal transformational change.
How To Choose Which Model Is Best For You And Your Organization
Scenario 1: You're already a well-established company that's considering pivoting or redefining your focus, and perhaps, moving towards and engaging a passion.
In this case, the Internal Transformation BHAG might be the best option since it can help to drive your redefinition or pivot.
Scenario 2: There is an organization that exists outside your industry or competition that you admire. This instills a culture, or set of traits, that you would love to see your organization adapt.
In this context, it’s a great opportunity to utilize the Role Model BHAG in order to realize your vision and become the best in the world.
Scenario 3: You're working hard and moving towards the top to become the best in your market. As a result, you need that extra push to unseat the current champion. Here, the Competitive Model BHAG seems like a great fit.
Scenario 4: None of the aforementioned scenarios resonate with you, but you have a vision, and perhaps a new market in which you want to engage, as well as a set of targets and goals that will inspire your team.
In this case, the Target Oriented Model BHAG might just be right for you.
Recommended Steps for Moving Forward
Regardless of which model you decide upon, it’s important to remember that it is incumbent upon you as a leader to provide meaningful goals to your organization. Big Hairy Audacious Goals can help point us in the right direction, as well as to balance our growth goals and help align our teams committed to a common good.
Breakthrough serves as a platform to help in refining and articulating your strategic planning, as well as enabling your team to collaborate and stay on track in hitting your Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
Sign up for a free trial today.
Join our mailing list.
Ready To Try Your Free Account?
Build a smarter growth strategy.
Bring your vision to life.
Your company's next level awaits.
What is An Ideal Customer Profile and Why Do You Need One?
In the past, market experts have emphasized the concept of settling for realistic goals rather than idealistic ones. This means that marketers have historically set achievable objectives and tapered their expectations in an attempt to minimize losses while maximizing their wins. Though this is undoubtedly good advice, there are times when it pays to be
What Are Rockefeller Habits and How Businesses Can Implement Them
The “Rockefeller Habits” are among the most regarded business strategy frameworks that have been practiced by numerous executives and entrepreneurs for the last 2 decades to make their businesses flourish.After reading the biography, “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.,” Verne Harnish, a business coach and the author of “Scaling Up,” became inspired to
Top 10 Strategic Planning Books
Are you looking to master the strategic planning process? Well, Breakthrough has got you covered! Check out our top 10 must-read books on strategy that will guide you to develop a killer strategic plan for your business or company: Strategy Safari by Henry Mintzberg, Joseph Lampel & Bruce Ahlstrand As
Morning Breakthrough: What are BHAGs?
Oh, hey, you must be here to hear about BHAGs. BHAGs are Big Hairy Audacious Goals and they’re really meant to be something that you can define that will get people excited towards a common goal. Different than usually mission statements or quarterly goals that set, but don’t get people as excited. BHAGs are meant
Morning Breakthrough: Avoid Vanity Values
When it comes to core values, what we don’t want to do is make them vanity values. And what I mean by that is a lot of times people will create core values that are something they want to have the outside world perceive about them, but really have no meaning internally. What we want
How Does Brand Voice Affect Your Marketing Strategy and Conversion Rate?
During the past few decades, consumers have become more engaged with what they see and learn online than by those more traditional media forms like TV, newspapers, and magazines.While all communications are important, marketers can now present their “voice” directly to individuals and specific market segments through social media channels and interesting content marketing.A brand