BHAG stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. The term was introduced best-selling author Jim Collins in his book titled “Good to Great, Built to Last.”
Collins wanted to create a phrase that powerfully described what it means to have ambitious long-term goals that convey boldness, excitement, and energy. The rest was history.
A BHAG is a tool that fuels companies and individuals to set ambitious and emotionally-compelling goals.
In a nutshell, BHAGs are long-term objectives that, when achieved, will change the very nature of a company’s or person’s existence.
According to Collins, BHAGs can be almost impossible to achieve without real commitment and hard work. They’re also bigger, bolder, and loud. It’s like putting man on Mars.
However, BHAGs are what makes a company great. A BHAG is what distinguishes a great company from an average one.
How BHAGS can help you
Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals for you and your business can change how you think and act. It boosts your confidence, sparks passion, and breaks limitations within yourself and your team.
BHAGs create a paradigm shift, eliminating narrow-minded thinking and allowing you to see the bigger picture and your full potential.
Jim Collins puts it best:
“The power of the BHAG is that it gets you out of thinking too small. A great BHAG changes the time frame and simultaneously creates a sense of urgency. It’s a real paradox.”
It’s worth noting that BHAGs are more than just goals because they’re often guided by your core values and purpose. This means that your big, hairy goals must be aligned with your company’s strategy. It’s not just an aspirational statement.
Benefits of BHAGS
- Eliminates narrow-minded thinking
- Creates a sense of urgency
- Allows you to see the bigger picture
- Gets everyone on your team on board
- Influences your overall company strategy
- Forces you to become a visionary
- Encourages you to unleash your full potential
- Achieves what you consider to be impossible
4 types of BHAGS
- Target Oriented — BHAGs that have clear quantitative and qualitative goals.
- Competitive — BHAGs that compete with competitors.
- Modeled — BHAGs that copy the goals of other companies outside the competition.
- Transformative — BHAGs that are aimed at creating transformative change within the company.
5 criteria for good BHAGS
- They are set with understanding — not bravado.
- They fit in the three circles of (1) what you are passionate about (including your core values and purpose), (2) what drives your economic logic, and (3) what differentiates you (what you can be the best in the world at).
- They have a long time frame — 10 to 30 years.
- They are clear, compelling, and easy to grasp.
- They reflect your core values and core purpose.
Examples of BHAGS
How to create your BHAGS
Here are a few simple steps to create your own Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.
- Think of a goal — The first step is to think of a goal. Start with a clear, simple goal that reflects your vision, purpose, and core values.
- Make it big — Now that you’ve identified a goal, it’s time to make it big. Expand the reach of your objective. Make it bigger — the kind of goal that will get you jumping out of the bed each morning.
- Make it hairy — Make sure that your goal is hairy, meaning alarming and difficult. Why? Because if your goal isn’t hard, then it’s not a BHAG. And most likely, your goal won’t transform your company into a great one.
- Make it audacious — Your goal should be bold and fearless. And it must be loud enough for everyone on your team to hear.
- Test it — The next step is to test your goal using the 5 criteria for an effective BHAG. Is it clear, compelling, and long-term?
- Take action — It’s time to act on your goal. Remember that physical creation follows mental creation. This means that to achieve your goal, you need to think (mental) and act (physical).