BHAG: BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL!!! Sounds crazy, unachievable and scary! What were Jim Collins and Jerry Porras thinking when they first coined the phrase in their book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”? A BHAG needs to be big, seemingly impossible and forward thinking. Most importantly, it should provoke action and a sense of urgency. In short, a BHAG is inspirational and aspirational.
JFK’s BHAG in 1961 to send a man to the moon before the decade was done sounded crazy at the time. But that declaration, the visionary statement, inspired NASA to get started. After careful planning, research and testing, they brought President Kennedy’s declaration to reality. We had a man on the moon in 1969. All this, before we knew what a BHAG was!
Since “Built to Last” was published, companies like Nike, Microsoft and Google have adopted the BHAG concept. This may lead you to think BHAG only works for large scale companies with seemingly infinite resources. I think it’s a mistake to place this limitation on the concept. Just as with companies, the BHAG concept is scalable to your own situation whether personal or business. I have friends with small businesses that established BHAG’s and have had amazing outcomes, such as helping a million people. The cool thing is, a BHAG inspires getting started and forward motion to goals that may seem unattainable. With limited resources and endless passion, it provides the roadmap to meet those goals and once started, the progress provides continued inspiration. It may take a long time to get there, but each step forward is closer to the goal!
Maybe that is trick: thinking long term and taking the steps today to get there. We all work in a fast-paced world and have learned to look for instant gratification; I think that is the issue. Maybe we need that moon shot, the long-term pie in the sky goal that we are passionate about and that will keep us moving forward, continually striving towards that BHAG that also scares us a little with its presumption of impossibility.
“A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.” – Joe Vitale
What is your BHAG? Let me know.
Have a great weekend.