By: Julietta Broomfield, Gol Global
Where is your business in the growth cycle? Do you want it to scale? Do you want to stop thinking small? The Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) is your long-term, 10-to-30-year goal, guided by your company’s core values and purpose.
A few well-known BHAGs are Microsoft’s vision in the 80s that a computer would be on every desk and in every house and SpaceX’s plan to take people to Mars. Steve Jobs’ 1985 vision, “I want to put a ding in the universe,” led Apple to go well beyond its aspirational goal of placing hundreds of millions of iPhones in our pockets today! BHAGs cause you to dream big, yet they do not need to be grandiose. Instead, they need to give you and your team direction and inspiration to achieve something bigger.
Some entrepreneurs roll their eyes just thinking of a 10-to-30-year goal or even their purpose or reason for being. They struggle to immediately connect how this concept will help make their business successful, fun, and more fulfilling. Many argue that the way to keep excited about their business is to make more money. In contrast, others vote for mastering their craft, doing the things they love better every day. These entrepreneurs believe that the pursuit of wealth and the practice of their craft is where they will find joy, where they will keep connected to why they chose to do what they do.
Well, we have good news. Being clear about your purpose and BHAG can epitomize your deep love for your craft and lead to the wealth you are seeking!
Other entrepreneurs laugh and tell us: “We can’t think beyond today, let alone our goal in 10 years!”
There are four types of BHAGs:
Target Oriented BHAG – Set a clearly defined quantitative or qualitative goal, e.g., become a $100 million company by 2025.
Competitive BHAG –The business chooses a goal that rallies its employees to focus on defeating their “common enemy,” their competition. In the 1960s, when Nike was still the new company on the block, its BHAG rally call was to “Crush Adidas.”
Role Model BHAG – Companies that adopt this BHAG mimic traits of another successful organization. For example, Stanford University, founded almost 250 years after Harvard, initially and informally called itself the “Harvard of the West.” That was its original aspirational goal.
Internal Transformation BHAG – The concept is to transform or reinvent. A good example of a company using the internal transformation BHAG is Best Buy when it chose to transition from an exclusively in-person shopping experience to becoming a digital leader in technology. Another more recent example is Netflix’s switch from mailing DVDs to becoming the world’s first streaming service. Will Netflix use the internal transformation BHAG to reinvent itself?
What makes a good BHAG? The weird thing about a good BHAG is that it must be so audacious, that there is a possibility you might not achieve it. How crazy is that? The reason is straightforward, though. If you set a BHAG that you are 100% sure of achieving, it is not big, hairy, and audacious – it is too small and does not outstretch you. And that is exactly what a BHAG is about – outstretching you out of your comfort zone, to make your organization better. A bold and aspirational BHAG introduces a mechanism that will stimulate progress, force you to go beyond incremental improvement and potentially disrupt your business. A good BHAG has several elements. It is long-term – a minimum of 10 years, preferably longer. It needs to feel around 70% achievable, not 100%. It must be clear and compelling for everyone in the company. It stretches and expands your company’s current competencies and capabilities. It is measurable and has a strong connection to your strategy.
If you do not have a BHAG, think about how bold it could be? What would motivate and stretch you and your team? Be audacious and then see how it helps develop your 3-year and 1-year plans. You will also start using your BHAG to guide your 90-day action planning and day-to-day decision-making. And very soon, you will see the BHAG helping you increase your wealth and enabling you to spend more time on your craft and having fun. A BHAG gives you a North Star that lights your pathway and a stretch goal to measure your progress.
Grupo Guayacán is a non-profit organization founded in 1996. It offers a series of training and business development programs for businesses in different stages of growth. Its best-known programs include I-Corps PR, the EnterPRize competition, and the Guayacán Venture Accelerator. For more information about upcoming announcements, as well as other Grupo Guayacán programs, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also visit guayacan.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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