In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. They introduced the concept of a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG pronounced be-hag). The purpose of a BHAG is to stimulate strategic progress for an organization. You can have one or a few. They are longer-term. A BHAG has a clear finishing line. It’s easily understood by everyone.
“A BHAG engages people—it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused. People ‘get it’ right away; it takes little or no explanation.”
Jim C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras
While I don’t use the term BHAG, I often coach clients to put the performance management system aside and create a truly compelling goal or short set of goals that will drive real, strategic progress. Sure, you can integrate shorter term outcomes into performance goals for sub-teams or individual. But don’t lose the big (often scary) picture of the future. If you don’t retain the scary-to-think-how-we-win, the goal will become diluted and ho-hum.
If you lead a department or smaller team, you don’t even have to tell your organization about your BHAG. I often have teams create their “back-pocket” goals. These goals are ones they keep in their mind and spirit, looking for opportunities to drive them forward. Of course they won’t be in their performance goals. They might not get credit like a check-box “Far-Exceeded” rating. But all teams with BHAGS are rewarded, because the outcomes speak for themselves.
So take a look at your goal statements and ask yourself, “Can I grab my people in the gut with this goal?” “Do I get up in the morning for that one?” “What would galvanize my team to stretch beyond their imagination?”