April 8, 2023

Are you ambitious enough?

How to plan the future of your business and inspire your team.

Developing grand and long-term plans for a business is not an easy exercise. Whatever phase of development a business or organization is in, the only sure thing is that it could benefit significantly from the establishment of a new, ambitious goal that will unite the team under a common vision, and help the company evolve in the highly competitive business environment.

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG, as it’s commonly called, in 1994 in their book, which has inspired thousands of companies and people since.


What is a BHAG?

This is an important goal that spans 10-25 years and is focused on making your business extremely successful. It has to be a particularly demanding, “daunting” challenge, like climbing Everest, which, at first glance, no one in the business will be able to imagine how it will materialize. If you can see how to get there, the goal is not big enough!

An excellent BHAG will challenge any team to overcome the obvious and the status quo. Just as stretching a tire produces energy, stretching your team will also produce energy. And committing to a goal you don’t know how to achieve creates an environment for innovation.


How do you find the right BHAG for your business?

A proper BHAG needs to be well structured and strengthen the foundation of your business. This means that you need to know your “Hedgehog Concept”. The term “Hedgehog” comes from Isaiah Berlin’s famous exhibition entitled “The Hedgehog and the Fox”. The story juxtaposes the fox, a cunning animal that knows many objects, He sees the world in all its complexity, with the hedgehog who knows a particular field very well and simplifies a complex world through a simple organizational idea.

An excellent BHAG is easy to understand, and acts as a reference point for consolidating team effort, and essentially guides decisions on a daily basis.

Everyone needs to know what they are and understand exactly how their daily activities will contribute to this goal. It is through this understanding that people in the company will be able to connect day-to-day executive processes to long-term strategy.


Some typical examples of BHAG

Nike, 1960s: Beating Adidas

Giro Sport Design, 1986: Becoming the Nike of the cycling industry

Merck, 1930s: Transforming the company from a chemical manufacturer into one of the largest drug companies in the world

Place at the top of the agenda at your next weekly corporate meeting a group discussion/review around your BHAG and what you’re going to do to get there. If you can’t clearly define it, take the time to discuss it using our guide to BHAG. Remember, you don’t need to have a mission to the moon in order to create a bold purpose, just something big enough that you’re not exactly sure how to get there.