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Using BHAGs as a Goal Setting Technique

BHAG (pronounced bee-hag) stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, an idea conceptualised 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.

All companies have goals. But there is a difference between merely having a goal and becoming committed to a huge, daunting challenge– like a big mountain to climb.

BHAG’s differ from other goal setting techniques because a large group (rather than individuals) usually position toward BHAGs and they typically span a large amount of time compared to traditional goals.

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.

Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. 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.

Like the moon mission, a true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort– often creating immense team spirit.  It has a clear finish line, so the organisation can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to aim for finish lines.

 

STEPS TO ACHIEVING YOUR GOAL

 

Step 1. Define your goal.

The very first thing you will want to do is CLEARLY define your goal. It has to be a finite target that you will work towards.

 

Step 2. Give It A Deadline.

A goal without a deadline is a wish. You need to set a time that is aggressive but not insurmountable. JFK’s goal to put a man on the moon was super aggressive for his time, but was actually possible to accomplish. Because this is a big goal, you want to make sure you can pace yourself a little. No one can consistently work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week so give yourself at least a little runway.

 

Step 3. Give It A Name.

When you name something you give it an identity. If you are just sitting around thinking that you might want to get “this thing” done in a year or 18 months, then that is tough. But if you say you are going to accomplish your Golden Parachute or The Big Business Plan, it is much more likely to occur.

 

Step 4. Get Accountability.

You may be very self-motivated and think that you don’t need any accountability, but with a goal that is this long, having at least check-ins with somebody from time to time will help to keep you on track.

 

Step 5. Work On It Daily.

The very best way to accomplish anything is to write it down as a goal. Do affirmations about your big goal daily and then make sure that something in your day moves you toward that.

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