What is a BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal? - Peter Boolkah

What is a BHAG? It is a big, hairy, audacious goal. It’s a goal that’s so big and challenging it seems impossible. But that’s precisely why you need one.

What Is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)?

It’s a bold, ambitious vision for scaling up an organization or business. This type of goal is typically associated with companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon – organizations that are known for their innovative products and successful growth strategies.

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras first introduced the concept of a BHAG in their book “Built to Last: Successful Habits Visionary Companies”. According to Collins and Porras, BHAGs are not just lofty visions or goals – they are goals that drive every aspect of an organization’s activities. They must be forward-looking, challenging, inspiring, motivating, realistic, and feasible.

While there is no single formula for creating a successful BHAG, companies that have successfully achieved their goals typically share common characteristics. These include having the right team, developing and following a clear strategy and vision, setting achievable yet challenging milestones, and focusing on continuous improvement.

Ultimately, a big hairy audacious goal is about scaling up your organization to achieve success at the highest possible level. If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, a BHAG might be just what you need!
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Why Is a BHAG Useful?

A big, hairy, audacious goal, is a valuable tool for businesses looking to achieve their goals and reach new heights. Often used by companies like NASA in the 1960s, a BHAG serves as a catalyst for driving innovation and motivating teams to reach new levels of success.

At its core, a BHAG is an ambitious target that challenges teams to think bigger and work harder. It can be something seemingly out of reach, like “landing man on the moon,” which was famously championed by John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. Businesses can find hidden potential and drive real progress by setting an audacious goal that pushes people outside their comfort zones.

Whether developing a new product or launching a marketing campaign, creating a BHAG can help you identify your key priorities and focus on achieving your ultimate goal. With the right combination of strategy and determination, your business can achieve success at previously unimaginable levels.

BHAG - Peter Boolkah

History of the BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal

The concept has a long and storied history. Originating in the 1960s, the idea was championed by business leaders who believed that setting ambitious but achievable goals could drive innovation and growth. While the true BHAG is still widely utilized today, it has evolved to include common enemy techniques that help companies rally around common goals and achieve their true BHAG together.

Whether you’re working on a new product launch or developing your company’s strategy for the coming year, setting a BHAG can be an extremely effective way to energize your team and drive results. With clear and focused goals that are challenging yet achievable, you can land a man on the moon like JFK did, where others have failed and achieve true success.

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Types of BHAGs

This concept was initially popularized by Jim Collins in his book “Built to Last,” published in 1994. In this context, a BHAG is an ambitious goal that your organization sets for itself; it pushes the limits of what people think is possible and inspires them to work together to achieve something great. There are several different types of BHAGs:

1) Performance-based. These BHAGs set goals for performance levels, such as doubling revenues or increasing market share by 20 per cent over five years. These targets can be very inspiring and motivating for teams because they give you an objective measure of success. And if you hit the targets, you can get the recognition and rewards that come with it.

2) Mission-based. These are aimed at changing or improving people’s lives in some way. Perhaps your organization is working to solve a specific social problem or help those less fortunate than others. In addition to helping those who need it, mission-based BHAGs also inspire employees by reminding them why they got into their field in the first place and allowing them to live out their values daily while they work.

3) Future-focused. Rather than looking towards what has already happened, future-focused BHAGs look toward what will happen if nothing changes — for example, growing your organization to have an even more significant impact or accelerating technological advancements to make the world a better place.

4) Learning-focused. These BHAGs are all about expanding your knowledge and experiencing new things by trying something completely new that’s never been done before. They can be as simple as launching an entirely new product line or service or more complex like getting involved in a brand-new field of business where you don’t have much experience. No matter what kind of learning BHAG you choose, it will be challenging and take your organization outside its comfort zone.

Which type of BHAG is right for your organization depends on several factors, such as what drives you most, who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to achieve. But no matter what type you choose, setting a big and audacious goal will help your organization reach new heights and inspire your employees to do their best work.

Examples of BHAGs

In the 1960s, Nike tried to “crush” its competitors, including Adidas. Focused on achieving greatness, they set their sights high and aimed for the moon with their ambitious goal of becoming the world’s leading athletic brand.

Along the way, Nike faced challenges and obstacles that could easily have derailed its progress. But through grit, determination, and a relentless focus on innovation and quality, they achieved their goal of becoming the global leader in sports apparel.

Whether aiming for a significant business accomplishment or just trying to stay fit and active, remember that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance. So set your sights high, keep pushing forward, and crush it! You can do it. Like Nike did with their moon mission, you can achieve greatness and crush your goals.

One of the most famous examples of a BHAG is Elon Musk’s ambitious goal to make travel to Mars a reality. Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, has long been vocal about his desire to colonize Mars with humans. In 2012, he announced that SpaceX hoped to send an unmanned mission to the Red Planet by 2018 and a manned mission by 2024. Musk has devoted significant resources to developing reusable launch vehicles, new rocket engines, and other advanced space technologies to achieve this goal.

Another example of an ambitious BHAG comes from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. In 2016, Bezos announced his intention for Amazon to become “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.” This vision inspired Amazon employees and motivated them to find ways of making their customers’ lives easier through innovation. Bezos’s ambition led to improvements in customer service, such as Amazon Prime Now, which delivers groceries within two hours in select cities, and Alexa voice-activated technology that helps customers purchase items without having to use their computers or phones.

Finally, Ikea is another excellent example of a successful BHAG. The retail giant set out in 1985 to become one of the world’s top three furniture retailers by 2020. They achieved this goal ahead of schedule due mainly to their focus on sustainable practices and their dedication to offering stylish furniture at affordable prices. By 2020 they had become the largest furniture retailer worldwide, with over 400 stores across 50 countries.

What Are the BHAG Categories?

In 1996, when the first version of the BHAG framework was introduced, there were three categories: people, process and education. The underlying principle was that all good business processes are built around great individuals who can lead and inspire others to succeed. In 1998 a fourth category was added: technology because it is too important to overlook when creating or improving a process.

Since then, there have been many changes and modifications based on user feedback. One example is the addition of an additional time-based dimension with the Goal Operations Breakdown Structure (GOB), which was derived from Agile methodology to provide teams with an understanding of how specific changes will affect the goal as a whole. Another example is the recent adaptation of the Toolbox component based on Lean concepts, giving users easy access to a wide range of templates, checklists, and forms to improve their processes.

Classic BHAGs

What Are Some Classic BHAGs?

Classic Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) are ambitious and inspirational goals that can motivate and drive organizations towards success. Examples can include anything from generating billions in sales to becoming a global leader in a specific industry. Here are ten examples of classic BHAGs:

1. Becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral company – this could involve setting up renewable energy sources, purchasing carbon offsets, investing in green technology, and re-evaluating transportation methods to reduce CO2 emissions.

2. Becoming the global leader in a particular field or industry – this goal could range from revolutionizing healthcare delivery systems to becoming the go-to destination for travel services.

3. Achieving zero waste production processes– this goal involves designing sustainable production processes that minimize waste and maximize resources by finding creative ways to repurpose or recycle materials.

4. Developing innovative products– this goal involves pushing the boundaries of creativity and design to produce more efficient and advanced products than competitors’ offerings. Examples could include electric vehicles, smart homes, and artificial intelligence applications.

5. Creating an organizational culture of collaboration– this BHAG fosters an environment where teams are encouraged to collaborate and share ideas freely to produce successful outcomes across departments or divisions quickly.

6. Reaching high levels of customer satisfaction – this goal requires constantly monitoring customer feedback data, finding ways to serve customers better, improving services based on customer demand, and responding quickly when problems arise regarding customer service queries or complaints.

7. Implementing new technologies– this goal involves staying ahead of technological advancements so that organizations can remain competitive while also maintaining high standards of safety and security for customers’ data privacy protection needs and employees’ workstations performance measures.

8. Increasing profits– this may involve identifying new revenue streams through innovative products or services, exploring marketing strategies for product promotion campaigns targeting different demographics, expanding into international markets, etc.

9. Generating top-notch employee engagement – this objective focuses on creating an inspiring workplace atmosphere where employees feel valued for their contributions by offering incentives such as bonuses or promotions based on performance metrics. It also involves providing optimal working conditions, including flexible hours, access to training opportunities, professional development plans, team-building activities, etc.

10. Establishing strong corporate governance – under this example, companies must strive towards meeting all government regulations while implementing internal policies which ensure transparency, accountability, the equitable treatment of stakeholders, ethical conduct among board members/executives, etc. This will help build trust among customers/investors and encourage socially responsible practices throughout the organization.

What Is the Difference Between Corporate Vision and BHAG?

At its most basic level, the difference between a corporate vision and a BHAG is that a vision is an internal transformation that an organization hopes to achieve. At the same time, a BHAG is a long-term goal to inspire employees and drive growth. Both are essential for creating and maintaining momentum within an organization, but they serve different purposes and require different approaches.

Whether leading a startup or running an established corporation, having clear internal goals is crucial to success. While your company’s overall vision sets the direction for where you want to go as an organization, your BHAG focuses on what specific targets you hope to reach to get there. This might include expanding into new markets, innovating new products, or achieving a certain level of revenue growth.

At the same time, having an internal vision is not enough to drive inner transformation. To truly engage employees and inspire action, you need to communicate your long-term goals and provide them with concrete steps they can take to achieve those goals. This might involve setting specific targets for employee performance or offering training opportunities that help them grow their skills and abilities.

Ultimately, both a corporate vision and BHAG are essential tools for guiding internal transformation and motivating employees to reach higher levels of success. By understanding the critical differences between these two concepts, you can better align your internal strategy with your broader organizational goals and ensure that everyone at your company is working towards a shared vision.

Why do BHAGs Work So Well?

BHAGs, or big, hairy, audacious goals, are a powerful tool for successful companies looking to achieve their business objectives. They are quantitative, involving clear targets and specific timelines that encourage businesses to think outside the box and push themselves to new heights.

At the same time, BHAGs are qualitative, using creative and innovative thinking to find unique solutions to complex problems. This combination of quantitative and qualitative thinking makes BHAGs an incredibly effective strategy for businesses seeking growth and success.

Whether you’re a startup just starting or an established company looking to stay ahead of the competition, implementing a BHAG is a great way to drive results and stay motivated towards achieving your business goals.

How to Create Your BHAG?

Are you looking to create a big, ambitious goal for yourself? A BHAG, or “big, hairy, audacious goal”, can help you set your sights high and work toward achieving something truly incredible.

At its core, a BHAG is all about role modelling and emulating the behaviours of other successful individuals. To create your own BHAG, start by identifying someone who has already achieved your goal. Study their actions and behaviours closely, looking for patterns or common threads that could be the key to their success.

Next, think about how you can make those same behaviours your own. What skills do you need to develop? What mindsets do you need to adopt? By clearly articulating your BHAG and setting specific, actionable steps for achieving it, you can work toward creating a bright and prosperous future.

Final Words

Like we have seen BHAG is a goal that is so big and daunting, you can hardly believe it’s possible. But that’s the whole point – when you set a BHAG, you stretch yourself to achieve something amazing. And once you reach your goal, you set another one even bigger and better. Nike has been using this strategy for years with great success. What could your business do if it set a BHAG?


What does Bhag mean?

BHAG stands for “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” This is a type of ambitious goal that’s designed to inspire employees and encourage them to push themselves and the company to achieve something great. BHAGs are typically set by upper management, but it’s important for everyone in the organization to believe in these goals so they can contribute meaningfully towards their achievement.

There are several key characteristics of a good BHAG:

1. It should be bold – A BHAG should be something that seems difficult or even impossible at first glance, but may actually be achievable if you have the right strategy and people working towards it.

2. It should have a clear finish line – Your BHAG should be a clear target that everyone in the organization can understand and visualize. This will help them stay focused and on task as they work towards achieving this goal.

3. It should have measurable success criteria – As you’re developing your BHAG, make sure that you establish specific metrics for success so you know when you’ve achieved it.

4. It should align with your mission and values -it should reflect your organizational goals and beliefs, so that employees feel motivated to work towards it each day.

5. It should be dynamic – A good BHAG is something that’s always moving forward, even if it isn’t quite where you want it to be yet. This means continuing to refine your strategy, setting new goals, and adjusting your tactics as you move closer to achieving the larger goal.

Overall, a BHAG should be something that excites and motivates your employees while also pushing them to accomplish great things. If you can create a bold goal that aligns with your company’s mission and values, it will help you build a stronger team and achieve success in the long run.​

What is another word for BHAG?

One possible word that can be used to describe a BHAG is a “goal.” Many entrepreneurs use the term “BHAG” as a catch-all phrase to describe their long-term business objectives. However, it may also refer specifically to large yet tangible goals that companies set for themselves in order to drive progress and fuel innovation.

There are many different types of BHAGs, and they can take on many different forms. Some examples include designing the world’s first flying car or creating software that will make human life more efficient. In general, these ambitious goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based (or SMART). This helps ensure that they serve as both motivating and achievable milestones.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, executive, or employee, having a clear understanding of your BHAGs can help you stay focused and motivated as you work towards achieving them. So if you’re looking to push your business or career to the next level, start thinking about what your own BHAGs might be!

What is your personal Bhag?

A BHAG, or “big hairy audacious goal,” is a personal motivation to achieve something incredible. Achieving such a goal requires setting and working toward specific goals over the long term, continuously learning along the way and persevering through setbacks and disappointment.

While every person has their own unique BHAG, some of the most common ones include becoming financially independent by a certain age, changing careers or starting a business, making positive contributions to society in an area of one’s interest, and traveling around the world. Setting your own personal BHAG can help you stay motivated in the face of obstacles and push you to grow as a person and achieve greater things over time.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own big, hairy audacious goal, here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Write down a list of long-term goals. While these might be personal or professional in nature, they should all be things that require time and effort over the course of years to achieve. For example, if you want to become financially independent by age 30, start saving now and come up with a detailed plan for how you will increase your income and manage your expenses going forward.

2. Identify some smaller goals that can help move you toward your BHAG. Many people find it helpful to start with small wins when pursuing something as ambitious as a BHAG—these can serve as milestones along the way as you work toward your ultimate goal. For example, if you want to start a business, you might lay the groundwork by taking a class or idea-scouting in your free time.

3. Develop a flexible plan that allows for setbacks and adjustments. No matter what your BHAG is, there will almost certainly be times when things don’t go according to plan—for example, you might face unexpected expenses or have an opportunity come along that requires you to change directions. Having a flexible plan in place that allows for these deviations can help keep you on track even during difficult times.

4. Remain focused on the end goal while staying aware of opportunities as they arise. Part of maintaining your motivation over the long term involves keeping sight of your ultimate goal while also recognizing opportunities that come along in the meantime. For example, if you’re working toward a career change, be open to letting go of your current job if an even better opportunity comes up.

5. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Whether it’s having weekly check-in sessions with a friend or mentor, joining a mastermind group related to your BHAG, or simply confiding in loved ones when times are tough, surrounding yourself with like-minded people who believe in you can make all the difference as you pursue your goals over time.

Pursuing any big goal takes effort and determination over the long term—but by setting a BHAG for yourself and taking steps to achieve it, you can accomplish amazing things and live a more fulfilling life.

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