Big hairy audacious goal

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…a collective of like spirit, joining in a burning desire.

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Manifesting your burning desire.


Collect everyone’s goals, desires, ideologies, soul profiles and forge a big, hairy, agressive goal. Pursue it.

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To process

Big Hairy Audacious Goals & Catalytic Mechanisms

BHAG—Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Big Hairy Agressive Goals
Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems
  • Review of the definition of a People Process Organization
  • Origin of BHAGs and their importance
  • Definition and examples of BHAGs
  • Characteristics and types of BHAGs
  • The application of catalytic mechanisms to assist the organization to reach its BHAGs

A BHAG (bee-hag)

  • Has a high return on equity or return to shareholders over an extended period of time
  • Creates a respect and deep appreciation for the value of people
  • Has good strategy
  • Is cohesive and adaptable
  • Has a long-term survival mentality
  • Its leaders understand that good people are a competitive advantage

BHAG Origin

  • Coined by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras in the book Built to Last, a study of 18 visionary and comparison companies.
  • Visionary companies formulate a core ideology that is based on two parts; to stimulate progress and preserve the core.
  • BHAGs are developed to stimulate progress within the organization.
  • Catalytic mechanisms “force” action by the organization to turn goals into results.

BHAGs effects on a company

  • The core values and mission preserve the purpose while BHAGs stimulates progress.
  • Stimulates:
    • Progress
    • Improvement
    • Innovation
    • Renewal

Also see HBR » The Exhilarating Power of Purpose.

Preserve the Core & Stimulate Progress

  • Yin: Cor Values
  • Yang: BHAGs

Preserve the Core & Stimulate Progress

Company Core to preserve BHAGs to Stimulate Progress
Boeing Being on the leading edge of aviation; being pioneers; risk - taking Bet the pot on the B- 17, 707, 747
IBM Seek superiority in all we undertake; Spend a lot of time making customers happy Commit to $5 billion gamble on the 360; meet the emerging needs of our customers
Ford We are about cars—especially cars for the average person “Democratize the automobile”

BHAG Examples

  • To reach 23 billion in sales in five years.
    • Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
  • To double sales in ten years.
    • Proctor & Gamble
  • To be “instead of just tops on its class…to be considered a global leader, like Coca Cola.”
    • Campbell Soup
  • 1960’s mission to travel to the moon and back by the end of the decade.
    • NASA

Great BHAG and a not so good example

  • Visionary example:
    • GENERAL ELECTRIC: Become #1 or #2 in every market we serve and revolutionize this company to have the speed and agility of a small enterprise.
  • Comparison example:
      • Total Quality
      • Market Leadership
      • Technology Driven
      • Global
      • Focused Growth
      • Diversified

BHAG characteristics

  • Long Term 10-30 years or more
  • Takes many smaller goals to be accomplished before BHAGs are accomplished
  • Simple, easy, and to the point
  • Connects with the core values
  • Highly focused, tangible, and energizing

BHAG Criteria

  • BHAG is a goal, like going to the moon, not a statement---it has a clear finish line.
  • BHAGs only help an organization as long as it has not yet been achieved.
  • Need a high level of commitment of the organization. It never occurs to them that they can’t do what they plan to do.
  • BHAGs become a way of life---must be aligned with the core ideology.

BHAGs in Four Types

  1. Target BHAG: goal-focused on a specific market segment.
  2. Common Enemy BHAG: goal focused on “crushing” the competition.
  3. Role-model BHAG: goal that uses another respectable organization as a role-model.
  4. Internal Transformation BHAG: goal to change or alter how the organization is perceived.

Writing a BHAG

  • Big, but simple and understandable.
  • There is no “right” or “wrong” goal. It focuses on results vs. activity.
  • Highly focused, energizing and tangible.
  • “Something to shoot for”---stimulates progress.
  • Challenges and excites the people of the organization because it is something outsiders deem as foolish.

More about writing a BHAG

  • Make it simple
  • Make it tangible
  • Paint a picture with words using a vivid description
  • Make it something that people can remember from day to day

Catalytic Mechanisms make BHAGs effective

  • Crucial links between objectives and performance
  • Non-bureaucratic
  • A powerful managerial tool
  • Makes BHAGs reachable

Examples of Catalytic Mechanisms

  • 3M’S 15% RULE: all scientists, marketing, and manufacturing departments spend 15% of their time creating new items.
  • Granite Rocks short pay: customers are instructed to cross out any item on the invoice that they were unsatisfied with, provide a short written explanation, and return the invoice for a check for balance of invoice. No further questions.

Catalytic Mechanisms

  • Produces desired results in unpredictable ways. They educe action.
  • Distributes power for the benefit of the overall system.
  • A catalytic mechanism has teeth:
    • Initiates a process in place that completes the vision
    • Rewards team results
    • Brings action to words, example…
      • To have total customer satisfaction
      • To empower other people
  • A catalytic mechanism produces an ongoing effect:
    • Has ongoing motivation, not a one time event that motivates then fades out
    • It can last for decades
    • Keeps people’s attitudes positive
    • Helps in continuous change for growth

Catalytic Mechanisms produce desired results in unpredictable ways and:

  • Give people the freedom to:
    • Show initiative
    • Be creative
    • Do unexpected things
    • Step outside the job description
  • Produce:
    • New Knowledge
    • Better results
  • Create a circle of:
    • Variation
    • Learning
    • Improvement
    • Enhanced results
  • Distribute power
    • Improves learning
    • Forces action and change
    • Gives people the freedom to do the right thing
    • Distributes power away from the people in charge and gives it to others

Relationship between a BHAG and a vision

  • Visions are what drive people to fulfill their BHAGs
  • Visions can help create BHAGs

Evidence Of BHAGs

  • Method: Collins and Porras assess the use of BHAGs in the visionary and comparison of companies, they considered evidence along each of the following dimensions
    • A: Use of BHAGs
    • B: Audacity of BHAGs
    • C: Historical pattern of BHAGs


Externe referenties