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Creating Big Hairy Audacious Goals for success

Do you have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (or BHAG) is a term that was created by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. A BHAG is a long-term goal, usually 10-25 years, that is inspired by your organisation’s values and purpose and, in turn, inspires your shorter-term plans. Your 90 day, one year and 5 year targets should be steps on the journey to achieving your BHAG.

An example is one that Microsoft founder Bill Gates shared:

When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software. We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home."

It is your vision for the future that will serve as the roadmap for all the changes that you seek to make.

How do you define your BHAG?

First, don’t choose something that you think you will accomplish easily.

SpaceX’s BHAG is to ‘Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars’. Microsoft’s dream of a computer on every desk and in every home might seem relatively straight forward now, but when it was created, it presented a seemingly impossible goal.

Secondly, pick something that you, your executive team and your employees are passionate about so that everyone can feel encouraged to work towards it.

Finally, make it simple to understand and communicate. How can new employees or customers get on board with your vision if they can’t understand what you’re working towards? Try to condense it to no more than a sentence so that it can be easily communicated.

Here are some more examples:

Walmart’s 1990s BHAG was to reach $125billion turnover by 2000.

NASA’s goal in the twentieth century was to land a man on the moon by 1970.

Nike’s BHAG in the 1960s was simply: “Crush Adidas”.

Once you’ve chosen your BHAG, commit to it and start working towards it!


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