Do you know what you want your company to look like in 10 years? Have you really taken the time to think about it? Most of the time we’re so focused on the now, on quick wins and instant satisfaction we don’t take the time to think too far into the future. But that’s what sets apart the pretty good companies from the great companies. Great companies set BHAGs.
Big Hairy Audacious Goals
If you’re familiar with Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and their book Built to Last you may recall that a BHAG stands for a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. In other words it’s a long-term, 10 to 25-year goal, guided by your company’s core values and purpose. These bold missions are a powerful way to stimulate progress.
A BHAG is more than just a goal. All companies have goals. But a BHAG is clear and compelling, it serves as a unifying focal point and acts as a catalyst for team spirit. It engages your people. Take NASA’s moon mission as an example. They didn’t need an eloquently written mission statement to get their team on board. The goal of getting to the moon was so compelling on its own, that it could have been said a million different way, but still be understood by everyone. And even more important, it excited and rallied the team around one unifying purpose. It weeded out team members who weren’t committed to the purpose, and attracted the top talent to NASA.
Unfortunately, most organizations’ statements do little to move its people forward and create a rallying cry. That’s because most missions, don’t contain a BHAG, or even more disappointing, the organization itself does not have a BHAG. When you’re thinking 10 to 25 years into the future, it requires thinking beyond the capabilities of your current team and leadership. It forces your leadership team to be both strategic and visionary.
You Don’t Want A Sure Thing
Achieving a BHAG should not be a sure thing. If it were, it wouldn’t be audacious. It also wouldn’t take unique problem solving and visionary leadership to accomplish. In fact, according to Collins and Porras, a BHAG may only have a 50% to 70% probability of success, but its the belief that the organization can reach the goal that will compel its people to put in the extraordinary effort to get there. This extraordinary effort is what will take good companies to great.
Taking the time to map out the vision for your organization’s future, will help ensure that your organization actually has a prosperous future instead of falling into irrelevancy like Blockbuster and Radio Shack.