“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.”
A BHAG is different from different from traditional organizational goals and objectives in that they are way bigger. James Collins and Jerry Porras suggest that you will know a BHAG by the following characteristics:
- A BHAG should be so clear and compelling that it requires little or no explanation…. If it doesn’t get the people’s juices going then it’s just not a BHAG.
- A BHAG should fall well outside the comfort zone. People in the organization should have reason to believe they can pull it off, yet it should require heroic effort and perhaps even a little luck.
- A BHAG should be so bold and exciting in its own right that it would continue to stimulate progress even if the organization’s leaders disappeared before it had been completed.
- A BHAG should be consistent with the company’s core ideology.
- BHAGs have a long time frame – 10 to 30 years.
They also suggest that you consider the following questions to test your BHAG:
- Does is stimulate forward progress?
- Does it create momentum?
- Does it get people’s juices going?
- Do they find it stimulating, exciting and adventurous?
- Are they willing to throw their creative talents and human energies into it?
To help you gain a better understanding of what a BHAG is like consider the following Wikipedia list of BHAG’s from some of the top organisations that we all can identify with:
- Google : Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- Boeing : Bet the pot on the B-17, 707 and 747.
- IBM : Commit to a $5 billion gamble on the 360; meet the emerging need of our customers.
- Ford : “Democratize the automobile.”
- Motorola : Invent a way to sell 100,000 TVs at $179.95; Attain six-sigma quality; win the Baldridge Award; launch Iridiums.
- Sony : Change the worldwide image of Japanese products as poor quality; create a pocketable transistor radio.
- Disney : Build Disneyland – and build it to our image, not industry standards. To be the best company in the world for all fields of family entertainment.
- Nokia Siemens Networks : Connecting 5 billion people by 2015.
The well known American architect and urban planner must have been thinking of the power of a BHAG when he wrote:
“Make no small plans;
they have no magic to stir men’s blood
and probably themselves will not be realized.
Make big plans; aim high in hope and work,
remembering that a noble, logical diagram
once recorded will not die.” – Daniel H. Burnham
For me the key benefit of a BHAG is the focus and change of mindset which it demands. BHAGS cannot be achieved by continuing to do what you did last year and the year before. Incremental improvements a not sufficient it you are to achieve the BHAG. You’re forced to think differently, to work differently and to break away from that which worked in the past. A real BHAG require people to behave and act differently. Lastly a real BHAG is accompanied by a true sense of urgency.
Bold visions stimulate progress, ignite passion, focuses the mind and fires up the imagination. They ensure that you focus on what’s important and are influenced by unnecessary distractions. Big bold visions break the back of mediocrity and small mindedness. Don’t settle. Aim high, make a dent in the universe.
- What is your BHAG?
- What are your big plans?
- Does your company have a BHAG?
- Do you have a BHAG for your life?