What in the world is a BHAG and why do I need one? Crafting your big, hairy, audacious goal

Vision & Strategy

Strategic planning is all about looking to the future. During the process, we focus on three time horizons:

  • 1 year – What you’re doing execution planning for
  • 3-5 years from present day – What you’re developing your strategy to achieve
  • 10-25 years from present day – What? How?

10 to 25 years out? Yes. It’s so far down the road, that there’s no way you can grasp what will happen with your business, the market or state of the world. But you can dream, and growth-oriented businesses dream big.

That dream, when framed as a goal is one of the most powerful strategic tools for your business.

This is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG. The BHAG concept was created by Jim Collins in his book, Built to Last. The premise is simple: a goal so big, and often far out, that you have no real idea how you’ll accomplish it.

Your BHAG is your north star, helping you set your course and adjust as required. It should be inspirational—driving your team to think bigger and come up with out-of-the-box strategies while they continuously stretch for the goal.

Creating a BHAG around revenue or profits does very little to inspire. Instead of focusing on dollars, consider the following when designing your BHAG:

  • Your core purpose
  • What you can the be the best in the world at
  • Your economic engine

Tying your BHAG to your core purpose (the reason your business exists) and the impact it makes, creates inspiration for your team to rally around,

Just like any other goal, your BHAG should be measurable. That way you can clearly see progress and know if you’ve achieved your BHAG. And yes… companies can and achieve their BHAGs. It’s amazing when that happens!

Keep in mind that when you don’t include clear measurement, you’re creating a vision statement.

Some example BHAGs include:

  • Walmart (from 1990’s): Become a $125 billion company by 2000.
  • RedBalloon: 2,000,000 gifting experiences in 10 years (10% of the Australian population). They achieved it!
  • Subway: 5000 locations by 1995 (achieved), then average dollar per person in the United States, which made them think broader

One of our clients recently created their BHAG, focusing on the impact they make to the economy. It’s somewhat of an overwhelming goal for them, but that’s a good thing. We’re confident that they’ll figure out how to make it happen, and we’ll be here supporting them along the way.

Are you ready to create a BHAG and make that dream come true?

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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