BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, an idea conceptualized in the book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James Collins and Jerry Porras. According to Collins and Porras, a BHAG is a long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business’ existence.
BHAGs are meant to shift how we do business, the way we are perceived in the industry and possibly even the industry itself. Collins and Porras describe BHAGs on a corporate level as nearly impossible to achieve without consistently working outside of a comfort zone and displaying corporate commitment, confidence and even a bit of arrogance.
BHAGs are bigger, bolder and more powerful than regular long- and short-term goals. They typically take a 10- to 30-year commitment, but they are exciting, tangible and something everyone just “gets” without any further explanation.
Are BHAGs Applicable to Entrepreneurs?
We all know that goals are vital for everyone, but is it possible to create a BHAG on an entrepreneurial level? Absolutely. The driving element of a BHAG is willingness to completely change your mindset and commit to doing something differently from the way you have been doing it.
If you can envision the big picture and are ready to take a bold and life-changing step, then it’s time to develop a BHAG.
How to Create a BHAG
1. Conceptualize It
The first step is taking the time to think through and conceptualize a goal you can aim toward that will change your business and/or your life. Let go of constraints and let your imagination take charge; your BHAG should be overly ambitious and seem unattainable. Here are the other criteria of a BHAG to keep in mind:
- Minimum of a 10-year plan
- Compelling and exciting
This is probably the most difficult part of creating a BHAG. It can take a long time (weeks, months, even years) to identify a goal that is important enough to you to qualify it as a BHAG.
2. Test It
Now that you have your BHAG in mind, run it through a feasibility check to gauge if it’s a BHAG and really one that you can dedicate the next decade to achieving. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Is it long-term?
- Is it something people will understand if you share it?
- Will it require you to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone?
- Is it measurable and life changing?
- Does it create momentum?
- Does it excite and stimulate you?
3. Commit to It
Just like you do with any goal, you will need to commit to your BHAG and start forward progress immediately. You can break it down into smaller, measurable chunks, or mini-goals. And make sure you check-in on your progress regularly (I suggest monthly) to dedicate productive focus to your BHAG.
Sure, 10 years seems like an awfully long time. But if you have created a powerful BHAG, a decade is probably an aggressive timeline. Personally, I kind of like the long timeframe. Think about how busy you are now. Having a goal that you don’t anticipate achieving until way in the future gives you time to create a solid plan and approach it methodically. And you’ll need that time if your BHAG is truly one of the “unattainable.”
For more information:
- “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”
- BHAGs are for People Too, The Trump Blog
- Examples of Powerful BHAGs
Do you have a BHAG? Why did you decide to go for it? Did you attain it?
Image credit: Glenn Pebley
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