There is nothing better than having a BHAG

philmckinney | October 3, 2011

Article

Use BHAG to motivate your team to achieve the impossible

Great leaders understand that one of their key responsibilities is to set the goals for innovation.  Most leaders don’t take this effort seriously and as a result their organizations suffer.  They violate the Law of BHAG in the 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation.

What is a BHAG?

A key component of setting the innovation goal is to create what I call a BHAG (Big Harry Audacious Goal).  A BHAG defines a visionary goal that is both strategic and emotionally compelling.   It serves as the focal point of effort and as a catalyst that enables teams to achieve industry changing innovations.  One example is the BHAG that John F. Kennedy put before the United States which was“to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade”.

A well-constructed BHAG defines the end objective in the context of a compelling story while at the same time not defining the “how”.  Why is this important? The objective is to unleash the ingenuity of the team to achieve what others define as the impossible.  Telling a team “how” turns them into robots and I haven’t seen many teams of robots achieve greatness.

So what are some sample areas of BHAG’s?

  1. Market Leadership.  Many leaders define their BHAG to become the number 1 company in their industry.  Don’t stop there.  What are the BHAGs that need to be achieved for you to become number 1? Go after those.
  2. Product Breakthrough. Create a new category of product that has been previously defined as impossible.  For example, set some characteristic such as; weight, thickness, performance, cost or design.
  3. Operational Transformations. Define a breakthrough goal regarding how your organization operates.  Go after such areas as; supply chain, distribution, call center, IT, internal processes, HR or finance.

Where some organizations struggle is after they’ve achieved a BHAG.  There is a short burst of excitement which quickly turns into a case of organizational depression.  Senior leaders need to insure that there is a continual wave of BHAG’s so as the teams finish achieving one, there is another that needs their attention.

The ability to define, communicate and execute against a BHAG is critical for success in the creative economy.

What are the best BHAG’s you’ve come across?

 

Other posts on the 7 Immutable Laws:

The 7 Immutable Laws of Innovation