In their “Built To Last” book, co-authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined a term that vividly conveys the excitement, energy, and envelope-pushing boldness stirred up by one’s daring, razor-edge endeavours. That term: BHAG!
Huh? What’s a BHAG?
They are what Jim Collins referred to as Big Hairy, Audacious Goals, [thanks to funfitnessfast.com for their great image]. This is what Collins says about ‘the BHAG’ …
“Achievements are very fleeting in terms of how they make you feel. Real BHAG people are kind of lost without the thing that pushes them, the thing they can throw themselves into. It provides an organizing construct for their lives. You wake up every single morning and get out of bed and it’s standing in the corner with large, furry feet and big glowing eyes-the BHAG. You go to bed at night and just before you close your eyes you see there in the corner with large, furry feet and big glowing eyes-the BHAG. It lives with you.”
Collins says that the real power of the BHAG, ‘those ambitious long-term goals that galvanise entrepreneurs, organisations or companies into success’ is that they get you out of thinking too small. A great BHAG often lengthens the time frame and simultaneously creates a sense of urgency. It’s a real paradox.
So on the one hand, you’re not going to get a BHAG done in three years. You’re not going to get it done in five years. A really good BHAG probably has a minimum length of …. about a decade, and many take much longer than that according to Collins.
If you want to have something that inspires, attracts and lasts, you need to have a goal that is much bigger than any single individual.
Any start-up that has a chance of succeeding requires at some point to develop a visionary mindset, a BHAG . . . that’s for sure. However, not every big idea starts out that way. Many of the major companies today started out with a small idea that grew over time.
So what about your goal achievement? What are the secrets that can help you move from where you are to where you want to be?
Once the decision is made to go ahead and the start-up phase has been entered upon, now comes the hard part. Everyone starts from zero, and the idea of building a great and lasting organisation can emerge slowly, as your business grows, or it can be the reason for being. Collins points out that most enduring great companies scaled their goals as they went along and began to get traction. Perhaps that is how your vision will develop. DO not let anybody tell you there is a right way, allow yourself to be led by the inspiration and act on the ideas as they emerge.
That’s the key: ACT!
- Have a vision that moves touches and inspires YOU
- Build BHAGs that others can participate in and get enrolled into
- Develop leadership and leverage that leadership in those around you
- Keep perspective. A BHAG is about making your organisation better
- Be more interested in the journey than your own success
- Stay in hope, and know where you’re headed
- Be open to act on opportunities as they arise around you
- Be prepared for massive personal and professional growth
1 – VISION: Your first step could emerge as a small, exciting idea … or it could be to be inspired by something you have dreamed of your whole life, and you now see that partnering with the Savvy Team gives you the opportunity to create. The challenge that you, as YOU Inc. now face, isn’t easy just because you have found a vision for yourself and your life – now, you have to lead. Leading is different.
2 – BHAG: Inc. Editor-at-Large Leigh Buchanan spoke to Collins about entrepreneurs, looking for distinctions in those who build their whole companies around BHAGs, and those whose BHAGs develop as the company grows. She shared Collins insights into how successful companies develop, and the very few distinctions that create BHAG leaders.
3 – LEAD: Being a visionary is just the start in building a great organisation. Vision is the base ingredient for being a leader, but there is much more to it. This is why so many visionaries are never really successful in their pursuits, unless they team up with a leader who can take that vision to the masses, or unless they learn the skills themselves. Most leaders have learned their unique set of skills, and within the Savvy Team fostering your personal and profession development are key aspects to our leadership training programs.
4 – IMPROVE: Collins said that one of the hardest challenges a leader has to endure in the beginning is figuring out what’s most important and focusing your scarce resources on that topic. It can be a difficult struggle to transform your grand vision into steps that your team can act on. But it is a task that must be not only encountered, but overcome.
5 – IT’S ABOUT THE JOURNEY: As Collins says: “The true BHAG-orientated leader is less interested in success. You’re more interested in the sheer exhilarating pain of the journey. You’re not going to have that immediate gratification of accomplishment. You are going to be immersed in it and working and suffering toward it for a long time–the way artists suffer. You have to enjoy that sense of extended discomfort. It’s the quest, it’s the training, it’s the growth, it’s pushing yourself. … If you think standing at the top of the cliff is where the joy is, you don’t understand it. The real joy is in all the pain and growth and suffering and creativity required long before you get to the summit.”
6 – HOPE: The purpose of a BHAG is to make your organization better, it is not about you and your success. Having a BHAG, something that is much bigger than you forces you to dramatically improve because otherwise you won’t be able to achieve it. It’s a mechanism to stimulate progress. Also it gives you a way of determining if you have achieved it. It’s like the goalposts on the playing field . . . you know if you have made the goal, or if you missed if you have definite things to accomplish.
7 – STAY OPEN: The whole entrepreneurial mindset is infused with a BHAG perspective. Because it’s so big and so audacious and so hairy it increases the sense of urgency. You look at it and say, “Oh my goodness, if we’re going to … we’d better get to work, now!” Having a sense of urgency fuelled by eagerness and enthusiasm, rather than from desperation or a sense of loss, will help you capitalise on your BHAG, as you act on the ideas you receive from within and from your coach. Just be careful who you take your advice from.
8 – GROWTH: A BHAG helps you build a great team committed to working together on a mission to build a great organisation, while each individual moves towards their own BHAG. Because if you don’t have a great unified organisation, you can’t achieve the bigger BHAG. But the only way to achieve that is to help others achieve their individual BHAGs along the way.
We [the founders of the Savvy Team] have personally set ourselves to achieving our BHAG by continually building and upgrading systems, building the organisation, building leadership within the organisation, building a way to teach, building a culture, an ease of recruiting. Here is what one of our leaders said: “What I love about being associated with the Savvy Team is that the founders are both visionary and great leaders. Their ability to inspire each other and their team leaders, and their willingness to go the extra mile for their vision has created a powerful and unified group of goal achievers.”