Is Your Goal Hairy and Audacious?

Do you have a BHAG? Or several? If you or your company don’t have a “big hairy audacious goal” perhaps it is time to find one and get to work on it. Or maybe you simply need to prioritize from that long wish list of corporate goals and recognize one or two as your BHAG.

An Inc. article last year said leadership expert Jim Collins, co-author (with Jerry Porras) of the seminal Built to Last, searched for a term—other than ‘corporate mission’—for the ambitious long-term, visionary goals that galvanize successful companies. The result? BHAGs entered the management lexicon.

“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,” said Collins in the Inc. interview with Leigh Buchanan. While urgent, the time frame for the BHAG can extend well beyond the next quarter or even the next year. “One of the roles of the BHAG is that if it’s really good and big enough you can’t achieve it if, in the process, you don’t build a great company, a great organization,” Collins said.

Aside from recognizing your BHAGs, it’s important to acknowledge that you can’t always reach them by yourself; more and more you need business partners. It’s like climbing Mt. Everest: even the best mountain climbers need an experienced Sherpa crew to guide them to the summit.

That means creating and sharing a vision with your partner or partners, and aligning with them in real and collaborative ways to create and share value. In other words, forming a Vested business model and relationship.

The short video from B2Bwhiteboard summarizes the four “A”s that make up a BHAG:

  • Alignment (you and a partner that shares the vision)
  • Audaciousness (remember, it’s big and hairy!)
  • Articulate (a clearly defined target)
  • Arduous (it’s not easy, but it is achievable through different thinking and struggle)

When I watch the video I think about companies like P&G – which transformed its corporate facilities and real estate management practices by building a true Vested relationship with Jones Long LaSalle (JLL). In fact, when P&G and JLL signed the deal William Reeves, P&G director, global business analysis, said, “We know that you [JLL]…have never done this before; and neither have we. But JLL has the culture that is much like P&G’s. We think we have the best of being successful with you because you are so much like us.”

Then there’s the Rocky Flats saga, where the Department of Energy joined with Kaiser-Hill in a massive closure and clean-up of a highly polluted nuclear production facility. Over 10 years they transformed the site into a wildlife refuge at a fraction of the original time and cost estimates.

Hmmm…want to climb Mt. Everest? Start by thinking of your own BHAG – and by changing your thinking: your business partner is your Sherpa – aligned to help you achieve your quest!

 

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