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Big Hairy Audacious Goal

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A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG, pronounced BEE-hag) is a strategic business statement similar to a vision statement which is created[by whom?] to focus an organization on a single medium- to long-term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible.

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" in their 1994 book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.[1] A BHAG encourages organisations to define visionary goals that are more strategic and emotionally compelling.[citation needed] Many[quantify] organisations set goals that describe what they hope to accomplish over the coming days, months or years. These goals help align employees to work together more effectively.[citation needed] Often these goals are very tactical, such as "achieve 10% revenue growth in the next 3 months". In contrast, Collins and Porras define a BHAG as "an audacious 10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future".[2] The authors claim that a company may have more than one BHAG; there may be one over-reaching BHAG and other shorter-term BHAGs.

"A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines."

— Collins and Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Mahoney and McCue sound a cautionary note when assessing BHAGs, seeing them as "[w]orthwhile when relevant to the business; inspiring to employees but disappointing when dropped in a few years in favor of other goals".[3]

Notable examples[edit]

  • JFK's Moon Challenge: "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 the earth."[4]
  • Microsoft: A computer on every desk and in every home.[5]
  • AIESEC: Engage and develop every young person in the world.[6]
  • SpaceX: Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars.[7]
  • Blackpool FC: Reach English Premier League.[8]
  • Google: Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.[9]
  • Hong Kong Broadband Network: Be the largest IP provider in Hong Kong by 2016.[10]
  • SolarAid: To eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020[11]
  • Gift of Life Marrow Registry: To cure blood cancer through marrow donation by ensuring a match for every patient in need, whenever they need one.[12]
  • Volvo: By 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo .[13]
  • Feeding Everyone No Matter What: Prevent starvation even if the sun is blocked by nuclear winter, volcanic winter or impact winter.[14]

See also[edit]

  • Wicked problem

References[edit]

  1. Collins, Jim & Porras, Jerry I. (1994). Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. HarperBusiness. p. 113. ISBN 0-060-56610-8. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. Collins, Jim & Porras, Jerry I. (September 1996). "Building Your Company's Vision". Harvard Business Review. 74 (5): 65–77.
  3. Mahoney, Richard J.; McCue, Joseph A. (January 1999). "Insights From Business Strategy and Management 'Big Ideas' of the Past Three Decades: Are They Fads or Enablers?" (PDF). Washington University in St. Louis. The CEO Series. St. Louis: Center for the Study of American Business. Center for the Study of American Business. p. 16. Retrieved 2018-10-18. Worthwhile when relevant to the business; inspiring to employees but disappointing when dropped in a few years in favor of other goals.
  4. Address Before a Joint Session of Congress, 25 May 1961
  5. Bright, Peter (June 25, 2015). "Microsoft has a new mission statement, and it's basically the same as its old one". Ars Technica. Retrieved June 17, 2017. Both are a far cry from the Bill Gates era. 'A computer on every desk and in every home' was clearer in intent and actually measurable; it was a mission statement that allowed Microsoft to more or less say 'Mission accomplished.'
  6. "EVERYTHING 2020". AIESEC HUB. 20 July 2016. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017.
  7. "Elon Musk: I'll Put a Man on Mars in 10 Years". Market Watch. New York: The Wall Street Journal. 2011-04-22. Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2011-12-01. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. English Premier League, 05-22-2010, English Premier League Archived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine, accessed on 12-15-2011.
  9. "Company Overview". Google.com. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  10. FTTH Deployment in Hong Kong: Successful Story of a Forerunner
  11. "Big, Hairy and Audacious. Not our CEO...our BHAG!". SolarAid. 29 June 2012. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016.
  12. Gift of Life Marrow Registry
  13. Volvo website
  14. Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters website


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