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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creating Good BHAG

Last, Friday in the Lean Quote I introduce a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. Remember, a BHAG is different from traditional organizational goals and objectives in that they are way bigger. James Collins and Jerry Porras suggest that a good BHAG has four qualities:

Aligned. Properly set goals can be transformational if they’re tied closely to what is most important to the organization.
Audacious. BHAGs are a breed apart. You’re probably on to something if the first reaction to a BHAG is “impossible!” BHAGs can’t be achieved easily or quickly. They demand different thinking.
Articulate. A good BHAG is a clear target. And it’s real. It’s not in any way a fanciful statement disconnected from the business. Kennedy’s 1961 mission to “land on the moon by the end of the decade” needs no further detail.
Arduous. Easy goals don’t require innovation. A good BHAG does. It’s achievable, but only through different thinking, real struggle, and a dash of luck. If it’s truly impossible—as opposed to perceived as impossible—people will disengage from the process entirely.

And here’s how you create a good 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 takes 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
  • Action-oriented
  • Innovative
  • 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.

So basically, when you create your BHAG, don't get overly excited or egotistical. Instead, use your understanding of who you are and what you are capable of doing to create realistic, but challenging, goals. Remember to look into the distant future and always stay true to your organizations core beliefs, morals and principles.

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