BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals)

Create compelling, long-term goal that can inspire and motivate groups of people to take action.
Contributed by

Ellie Hill

Published March 26, 2024

What Is BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) ?

BHAGs stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. A BHAG is a compelling, long-term goal that can inspire and motivate groups of people to take action, with urgency.

BHAGs are a long-term (10-30 years) goal that defines the essence of a team’s existence. They complement shorter-term goals frameworks (3-12m).

Why Do BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) ?

A BHAG is clear and compelling, needs little explanation; people get it right away. They can be used to inspire organisations and provide a huge target for an organisation to hit.

How to do BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) ?

There are four categories that can guide the creation of BHAGs:

  • Role Model: Role model BHAGs involve selecting a role model (usually another business/ organisation) and seeking to emulate their traits and success e.g. Facebook
  • Common Enemy: Common enemy BHAGs involve David vs Goliath motivation - with the focus being to ‘defeat a common enemy’. Collins and Porras cite the examples of Nike’s 1960s mission to “Crush Adidas”
  • Targeting: As the word implies, a target BHAG involves setting a huge, clear, definable target e.g. Walmart.
  • Internal Transformation: Remain competitive by revitalising. Focused internally rather than externally, internal transformation BHAGs seek to transform your company from within.e.g. Apple in 90s

Example: The Moon landing

On 25 May 1961 JFK stated "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”. No need for a verbose speech or document, the world understood: the U.S. would put a man on the moon—and bring him back safely.

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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