10 Reasons A BHAG Really Matters
10 Reasons A BHAG Really Matters
During the last week, I discussed the concept of BHAG with different people. From what the BHAG is, through the real value of the BHAG in the Hedgehog, to the five types of BHAG. And yet, one key question kept coming up “Why should I have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal?”
The concept of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG (pronounced bee-hag), was popularized by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” A BHAG is a 10 to 30-year goal meant to inspire and guide an organisation. It should be bold, compelling, and challenging, serving as a unifying focal point for better and faster decisions.
As you stand at the age of 40, envisioning your retirement at 65, there are only 25 annual planning sessions left. Having that “North Star” to be able to make better and faster decisions becomes critical.
In our work with leadership teams, we have seen additional benefits of having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
Let’s review the top 10.
#1 Direction and Focus
A BHAG provides crystal-clear direction and unwavering focus. It acts as a guiding star, helping you make decisions and prioritise initiatives that align with your long-term vision.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Google’s early BHAG was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This BHAG has guided Google’s development of various products and services to achieve this mission.
#2 Unity and Alignment
A BHAG unifies your team and aligns everyone toward a common goal. When team members understand and believe in the BHAG, they work together cohesively, breaking down silos.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Apple’s BHAG under Steve Jobs was to “put a dent in the universe” by creating groundbreaking products. This vision unified Apple’s teams, leading to the development of iconic products.
#3 Stretching Boundaries
The audacity of a BHAG encourages you to think beyond your current capabilities. It challenges your organization to innovate, adapt, and evolve to achieve something truly extraordinary.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Amazon’s BHAG is to “become Earth’s most customer-centric company.” This ambition has driven Amazon to continuously expand its offerings and improve customer experiences
#4 Attracting Top Talent
Organisations with compelling BHAGs often become magnets for top talent. High performers want to be part of a journey that stretches their abilities and leaves a lasting impact.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Tesla’s BHAG is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. This compelling goal attracts top talent passionate about environmental sustainability and innovation.
#5 Inspiration and Motivation
A BHAG serves as a wellspring of inspiration and motivation for your entire company. It gives every team member a compelling reason to step into the office each day, knowing their individual role’s contribution forms part of something bigger than themselves.
Example exemplifying this benefit: SpaceX’s BHAG is to “enable human life on Mars”. This audacious goal inspires employees to work tirelessly toward making life on another planet a reality.
#6 Resilience in the Face of Challenges
When inevitable obstacles and setbacks arise, the BHAG acts as a resilient force. It reminds you why you embarked on this journey and encourages you to persevere through even the toughest times.
Example exemplifying this benefit: In the mid-2000s, Nintendo was struggling in the gaming console market. The company’s BHAG was to expand the gaming audience beyond traditional gamers. Nintendo introduced the Wii console, which appealed to a broader demographic, including families and seniors. This innovative approach led to tremendous success and market leadership.
#7 Measurable Progress
A BHAG guides you to track progress towards its achievement. This not only keeps you accountable but also empowers you to adjust your strategies as needed.
Example exemplifying this benefit: In 2004 Naomi Simson and her team at RedBalloon (an Australian gift experience provider) set a BHAG to provide 2 million gifting experiences within 10 years. In 2011, Naomi reached the 1 million halfway mark and in 2013 RedBalloon reached the BHAG of 2 million.
#8 Customer Confidence
Your commitment to a bold BHAG instils confidence in your customers (and investors). They witness your unwavering dedication to a long-term vision and are more likely to support your long-term goal.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Disney’s BHAG is to create happiness and entertainment experiences for people of all ages. The company’s commitment to storytelling and its iconic brand have generated strong customer loyalty and investor confidence in its diversified entertainment portfolio.
#9 Legacy Building
Achieving a BHAG leaves a lasting legacy for your company. It becomes a foundation upon which future generations can build, fostering a culture of continuous evolution and improvement.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Coca-Cola’s BHAG is to “refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism, and make a difference.” Over the years, Coca-Cola has left a legacy of iconic branding and global impact.
#10 Continuous Improvement
Pursuing a BHAG encourages you to seek new approaches, embrace change, and adapt to evolving market conditions, ensuring long-term relevance. It’s not just your organization that evolves; individuals within your team acquire new skills, knowledge, and a sense of fulfilment as they work towards that BHAG.
Example exemplifying this benefit: Procter & Gamble’s BHAG is to “touch and improve more consumers’ lives, in more parts of the world, more completely.” P&G’s commitment to improving lives drives ongoing product innovations.
A Big Hairy Audacious Goal is more than just a goal, it’s a reminder of the potential within your company. These goals typically have a 10-30-year time frame and are often not easily attainable, but they can motivate teams and leaders to work together to accomplish something remarkable.
To learn more about setting BHAG’s in your organisation, contact us for a chat with one of our Leadership Coaches.