Sunday, March 11, 2012


BHAG is impossible but attainable goal statement.

Frankly speaking, I was not aware what “BHAG” means till 2007. When I was involved in implementing Balanced Scorecard in my previous organization, I came to know this terminology during one initial workshop on Balanced Scorecard. Off course, Balanced Scorecard has not directly related to BHAG, but has some connection.  I like it very much and read more about the same.  This terminology was first used by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. They encourage organizations to develop a “big, hairy, audacious goal” (BHAG, pronounced bee-hag)a bold strategic vision statement that has powerful emotional appeal. Balanced Scorecard is also based on the strong vision.

BHAGs help infuse work with meaning by articulating the goals of the organization in a way that connects emotionally with peoples’ values.

The term itself connotes that the goals are very ambitious for the world and are questionable but not impossible. However people in the organization should be connected to the statement. Sometimes this may create confusion among employees. They may perceive the goals unattainable and the whole purpose of the BHAG goals may defeat.  

In one organization, the BHAG goals were translated into 5- years plan, however people were not aware about the logic of deciding these goals. Company hired consultants. Consultants did their job. They did market research and analysis; put the data in big presentations; however different business heads were not convinced on their Goals. Managing Director was pushy, however whole exercise went wrong. It could not work. In such scenario, such BHAG statements may extravagant, containing little relevance or meaning for people.

The BHAG should be more strategic and emotionally compelling to people. It helps to align employees towards business. Typical BHAG applies whole organization and has 10-20 year long ambition. It requires thinking beyond the current capabilities and hence it is very difficult to connect all the demographics of the organization.  

Just imagine Bill Gate’s dream “A computer in every home.”  If Bill Gate would not have been given the clear vision statement, would Microsoft have been there today.  Generally people don’t dislike work; companies need to help them to understand mutual objectives. They will drive themselves to unbelievable excellence, as rightly said by Bim Black.

In 1990, Wal- Mart had seen the same dream and they become 125 billion -company by 2000.  During 1900, Henry Ford dreamt to “democratize the automobile.” However there are certain companies, which were totally focus towards crushing their competitor as Nike farmed the BHAG statement in 1960. Their BHAG goal was “to crush the Adidas.”(!)

Primarily all these Goals were perceived impossible by the external world, but internally they sensitize all the resources towards their Goals. In most of the cases, they succeeded.  

Leadership is to provide this BHAG vision to the organization and employees at large. And hence leadership means also dreaming big and translating the impossible dream in achievable goals.


Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Thought provoking note.

Pramod Kumar tripathi said...

Really insight sharing sir..still the terminology BHAG is not adopted by most of the companies.though it's relevancy is proved.

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