How to Create Big Goals to Inspire Your Team


Ever wondered how to get your team to rally around a common goal and be incredibly motivated to work towards it? The secret lies in choosing the right goal and how you frame it.

Building and growing a business is a lot like standing in front of a mountain and being excited (and a little bit scared) about reaching the summit. You can’t climb a mountain if you’re unsure of where you’re going. You need a team, a planned route, and the right equipment, otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to succeed.

So, how do you prepare for the business equivalent of a mountain expedition so that your team is aligned and itching to reach the summit? 


Figure out Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG™) 

The first step is to know where you’re going, even if you have no clue how you’ll get there. Let’s say you know you want to climb Everest. You don’t know exactly what you need to do to get there, but you’re dreaming big and know you want to get to the top of that mountain. This is a huge, intimidating goal, and that’s exactly the point. 

When a dream is framed as a goal, it can be an incredibly powerful strategic tool for your business. The BHAG™ is a concept developed by Jim Collins in his book Built to Last. It’s an inspirational and measurable goal meant to be achieved within 10 to 25 years that acts as the North Star for your business compass.

It’s easy for businesses to think in one, two, and three-year windows and feel confident that they can achieve small targets with relative ease. That’s the equivalent of committing to doing the Grouse Grind (or another small climb) over and over again. 

Instead of aiming small, imagine challenging your team to work together to climb progressively bigger mountains, so they are excited to achieve something truly remarkable that many of them may never have thought possible. 


How to create your BHAG

When you’ve decided what your Everest, or BHAG, looks like, it’s important to design it right, and it should be based on your hedgehog.


What is the Hedgehog Concept?

Basing goals purely on economic metrics is not very inspirational. Most people are motivated by being part of making an impact. Yet, it is necessary to choose goals that make economic sense and also focus on what your business does best.

The Hedgehog is what Jim Collins refers to as the sweet spot between the following:

  • Purpose and impact (what you are deeply passionate about)
  • Your economic engine (what drives your business resources)
  • Your core competencies (what your business can be the best in the world at)

This Hedgehog is what great businesses focus on, and a BHAG is a way to measure it. 


Think Bigger

Dream big and choose a BHAG that your team is only about 70% sure you can get to but would be tremendously proud and excited to achieve.

What such a lofty goal does is motivate your team to think out of the box to find creative solutions to get progressively closer to that goal.


Tips for Working Towards a BHAG

Let’s look at a real example of how to inspire your team with big goals by looking at an Incrementa client experience. As a business strategy consultant, I love helping businesses reframe the impact they can have through the work they do. 

One client I worked with to create a BHAG initially believed their work (tax-related reporting to the government) was rather mundane and difficult to be inspired by.  That was something we had to reframe.  


Clarify Your Purpose and Come up With an Inspirational Concept

Upon digging deeper, the client realized that their impact was helping fund innovation across Canada through tax credits, which was something they could get excited about. 

This shift in mindset to focus on the WHY of what they do got their entire team thinking about how big an impact they might be able to have. 

With this in mind, the team then picked a jaw-dropping BHAG to work toward over 10 years which made them feel nervous, yet excited – which is just how you should feel about an ambitious goal.


Communicate your Inspiring Goal

When you’ve inspired your team by focusing on the impact they can make in the world, it’s important to make sure everyone knows what the goal is, and how it is being measured. 

A public scoreboard is a great way to keep that goal top of mind and your team driving towards it. 

We’ve seen clients use many different ways to keep score including:

  • The Wall of Impact – a public BHAG progress report
  • Monthly email updates
  • Townhall updates

The important part here is showing progress and keeping the team focused on the massive goal. 


Create a Ritual to Celebrate Progress Toward Your BHAG

Making progress towards a BHAG is exciting and including your whole team (not just the management team) in the process of measuring and celebrating that progress is a powerful way to keep everyone in the business engaged and thinking of creative ways to get closer to that goal. Make a big deal of progress, because it is a big deal!

One of our clients measures progress toward their BHAG every quarter in a fun ritual that involves the employee of the month getting the honour of updating the chart. 

They’re anything but shy when it comes to their ritual – they use music, food, and the “special pen” to make it feel like a celebration.


Always Think About Where to Go Next

A failure of many companies is that once they achieve a goal, they sit back and relax. You should never feel like you’ve achieved enough as a business. If you do, your growth is going to plateau and eventually dip.

When you hit a peak, you should be looking over to the next mountain you’re going to climb as a team. When you reach your BHAG, you should be thinking ‘what’s next?’. 


Are you ready to inspire your team? 

Developing your BHAG and leveraging it to inspire your team goes beyond standard strategic planning.  

If you’re ready to level up and engage your team in an inspiring journey, get in touch.

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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