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Big Hairy Audacious Goal – BHAG

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Aug 31, 2009

Jim Collins in Built to Last and Good to Great discussed the importance of creating your BHAG. In the real world my guess is that very few businesses discover their BHAG either because they've never heard of it, or don't understand the value it can have in growing their business.   

Discovering your BHAG can have a substantial impact on helping determine your strategy. Strategy, when you get it right can make a make the difference in dominating your industry or being just another business struggling to make it.   In Subway's case their original BHAG determined their decision to become a franchise - they didn't feel they could open 32 stores in ten years with the capital they had so they looked to the franchise model to fuel their growth. 

In 1995 their BHAG was revised to get $.50 from every man, woman and child in the United States. In 2010 they revised it to double that. The BHAG helped them decide to revise their strategy, broadening their appeal to freshness, and fewer calories per sandwich.   

Okay you're asking, what does that mean to me? I don't want to get every man, woman and child to spend 50 cents or a dollar on my product, I just want to have a business that I can get reward and fulfillment from and some day retire on.  One of my clients and I discussed the value of the BHAG and his comments lead us to explore another word for BHAG that might help your business consider working on this to drive your strategy. He called it your FINISH LINE!  

Most small to midsized businesses are privately owned, and many times by one owner. The owner is looking to get out at some point and the only way to accomplish that is to build the business so it doesn't depend on you.    So what's your finish line?   When will it be? What will it look like? How much will your business need to be worth? How ambitious are your goals?  

And how do you feel you'll be able to let go or retire from your business when you reach the point and time you wish to get out?     Determining your Finish Line can then drive your strategy. In fact that's exactly what it should be doing, and yet my guess is a lot of business owners don't think about this until its too late.    Think ahead to your future. Use the rules that govern creating your BHAG to create your Finish Line. 

Your Finish line ought to be:  

1.    10 years plus

2.    Ambitious, not Braggadocios

3.    Reinforce Business Fundamentals  

You may not want to be the number one Consumer Brand on the Planet as Starbuck's BHAG aspires to be. However you do want to have a business that can provide you with something meaningful when you are ready to retire.     Aubrey Daniels is a perhaps the world's foremost authority on applying scientifically-proven laws of human behavior to the workplace. We quote him in our Rockefeller Habits 2 Day Workshop on how getting your people engaged can improve performance 40%. He's got a new book called Oops - 13 Management Practices That Waste Time and Money [and what to do instead], that I've found fascinating and believe you will too. 

Need Help Implementing these ideas?

Positioning Systems helps business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business.  We provide the tools and coaching to help you take control of your business -- rather then having your business Control you.

 

Topics: BHAG, strategy decisions, strategy, Strategy Decision

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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