Big Hairy Audacious Goals: A Relentless Drive for Progress

Feb.04.2018 Business Resources

To build a visionary company, you need to create a relentless drive for progress that promotes change, improvement, innovation, and renewal. One way to bring that drive for progress to life is through BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). This term was coined by leadership author Jim Collins as a way to describe challenging an entire organization to rally around a huge, ambitious, scary, but worthy long-term goal. All companies establish targets and goals they hope to accomplish in the coming days or years. BHAGs differ from ordinary goals because they are intended to be significantly more ambitious and emotionally compelling, challenging people to be the very best they can imagine.

As a Christian servant leader, setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals makes continuous improvement a way of life, not a management fad. These ambitions hold us accountable to create a God-honoring company with a vibrant, productive, and engaged workforce, all while keeping the eternal perspective in mind. 

So what’s your BHAG? Your company may not have a suitable BHAG at this point, but all of us can benefit from taking the time to establish and pursue one. Every company’s BHAGs are unique, but they should have a few things in common:

Ambitious: A BHAG should fall well outside of the comfort zone. People in the organization should have reason to believe that they can pull it off, yet it should require heroic effort and perhaps even special anointing or blessing from God.

Compelling: Make your BHAG so clear and compelling that is requires little to no explanation. It should be defined in a way that gets your team’s adrenaline flowing and motivates them to march through any circumstances.

Long-lasting: Your BHAG should be so bold and exciting in its own right that it will continue to stimulate progress even if the company’s leaders disappeared before it was completed (e.g., putting a man on the moon, Wal-Mart’s goal to become the world’s largest retailer, and President Reagan’s vision of toppling the Soviet empire). The goals should serve as a unifying effort towards a 10-to-30-year goal that lasts for generations and describes the ideal future vision of size, performance, reputation, or impact.

Progressive: One of the inherent dangers of setting BHAGs is that once achieved, an organization can stall and drift into the “we’ve arrived” mentality. Prevent complacency by developing follow-on BHAGs and by using other methods of stimulating progress such as incentive compensation, vision sharing, and team decision-making.

Consistent:  Most importantly, BHAGs must be consistent with the company’s core values, and pursued in a way that aligns with this ideology. It may be tempting to stray, but your BHAGs should always be aligned with your original principles, vision and mission.


Set Big Goals This Year

Making time to intentionally create a BHAG challenges us to visualize the company we want to create for the future. The practice is well worth the effort and can reap fruit for years to come. Surrounding yourself with like-minded Christian business leaders is one way to help you stay focused and accountable towards goal-setting.  Learn more about how the C12 Group can provide you the encouragement, Biblical best practices, and peer wisdom to help you create and sustain your BHAGs.