What Are BHAGs And Why Should Your Company Have One?
The aim of this article is to show the importance of this idea, to provide the historical background of BHAGs, and present how this idea can influence a startup.
What Does BHAGs Stand For?
A BHAG is an abbreviation for Big Hairy Audacious Goal; it was first described in “Built To Last: Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies” book by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras. The BHAGs are short, usually one-sentence claims, that summarize the company’s mission. BHAGs are long-term and they stimulate progress, creativity, and innovation but, on the other hand, they provide a solid foundation and help a company stay clearly focused on their current activities and the next steps that should be taken in the future in order to fulfill its aims.
“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.” J.Collins
What Is The Goal Of The Big Hairy Audacious Goals?
The BHAGs are meant to be an ongoing and universal statements that define the mission of a company. However, they need to meet a few requirements; they need to be big (ergo: significant), hairy (frightening or dangerous), and audacious (signifying confidence in your behavior that most people find shocking; however, this aspect of impossibility is what your drive to reach your aim). It is a timeless statement that will help your co-workers guide your company in the desired direction regardless of the current innovation trends. This is not a goal in its purest sense but it’s more like a challenge to be completed in the face of day-to-day decisions, strategies, and approaches. BHAGs don’t need any extra explanation. They are direct and clear to the reader.
The History of BHAGs
One of the first well-known and famous BHAGs in the history was presented by John F. Kennedy when he claimed: ‘I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.’ (Excerpt from the ‘Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs’ delivered in person before a joint session of Congress May 25, 1961). At that time, this BHAG was an extremely brave and hard to reach, but not impossible. The given time was measurable and the whole mission gave the US nation a sense of motivation to achieve the set goal.
Facebook: To make the world more open and connected.
SpaceX: Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars.
Amazon.com: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company.
Blackpool FC: Reach English Premier League.
In order to reach your BHAGs, you’ll often need to step out of your comfort zone but, on the basis of the following examples, I believe it is truly worth it. If you’re still looking for a useful piece of advice concerning a pre-launch startup phase, read our article on the best business podcasts tips for inspiration!
Does your company have a BHAG? If so, write us your BHAG in the comment below! Or maybe this article is an inspiration for you to create your own claim? Even if you don’t have it, please remember to be back to us in the future and share it with us. We’re very interested in startup BHAGs! 🙂