Interesting fact …
On May 25, 1961, before a joint session of Congress,President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation on Urgent National Needs. In this speech, JFK stated that the United States will set a goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth by the end of the decade.
Not knowing exactly HOW this would happen, just making the statement that WE WILL do something audacious created an additional sense of purpose. It drove us all toward a common visionary outcome …
Which as you know, came to fruition on July 16, 1969.
Little did anyone know, this statement would become one of the most famous “BHAG” statements in history.
The term “BHAG” was actually coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last many years later.
In 1999, that book was recommended to me …
And yes, I actually recall the year I read it because I remember presenting my very first BHAG (after being inspired by the book) to the company I was working for at the time.
I stated that we would create a brand new division within the company, and it would reach 45 million within 5 years.
Needless to say, that did not go over well. After my presentation, my boss was irate (and almost fired me right there on the spot). He asked how I could ever state such an unattainable goal; that I flat out embarrassed the entire department.
He believed it was sure to fail, and held me 100% accountable to reaching it (linking my future with the company to the outcome).
Fast forward 5 years later …
That brand new division was created.
And we took it from $0 to $45 million annually within 5 years, making it the biggest, fastest-growing, and most profitable division within the company.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, BHAG stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.
Simply put, a BHAG is a long-term, 10 to 25-year goal aligned with your culture, overall strategy, and embraced by all.
But it’s not just any goal.
It’s a challenge. A challenge so outside-the-box, it may seem “unrealistic” to everyone else that you’d actually achieve it.
You’ll hear me mention BHAG quite often because I believe it’s a vital piece to a company’s growth, and an extraordinary and embraced part of a company’s overall culture.
A BHAG represents “True North” to every team member in your company. It’s the one clear purpose that everyone is on board with.
A compass for anyone who is ever unclear which direction to move towards in the company. If there is ever a question whether a certain move or decision is beneficial for the company, simply asking this one question: “Is this getting us closer to our BHAG?” will provide the correct answer.
A BHAG can also influence and qualify current and future hires within your company.
You only want to recruit the best team members to help you achieve your goals, right?
Your BHAG will attract the right candidates who want to be a part of actualizing your goal/mission.
“A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a 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. A BHAG engages people—it reaches out and grabs them. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused. People get it right away; it takes little or no explanation.” -Jim Collins
When we started designing our culture framework at Business Nitrogen, I did something a tad bit different.
I mention this because I think it might make a difference for you when embarking on this exercise.
I decided to focus on creating our BHAG before we created any of the other culture components (against what is recommended).
I did this because it was easier to keep the end in mind. Then simply work backwards to design the foundational elements that would directly and intentionally support it.
Here’s what we came up with:
By Dec 31, 2030, Business Nitrogen positively impacts 1 billion people worldwide through clients implementing our ethical marketing and sales strategic solutions.
One more quick tip …
Keep this checklist top of mind when creating your BHAG:
- It feels as if it’s 70% achievable
- It is clear and compelling
- It expands your company’s current capabilities
- It is measurable
- It is aligned with your company’s overall strategy
- It is long-term (within 10 to 25 years)
- It scares you… just a bit!
If you’d like some feedback after you’ve created your first draft, send it over to us by simply replying to this email.
As always, feel free to reply back if you’d like to brainstorm on how we can help you grow and scale your business to the next level. We have a new program in the works that might be great for you if you already have a killer team behind you that can help you execute exactly what it will take to break through that invisible ceiling in your business.
To your success,
Active Campaign Certified