Do you know why setting goals for companies is essential? Because that will encourage them to focus on the future and unite the company. It can help measure progress, build morale, create a company culture, and boost motivation.
Achieving goals also boost employee morale, mainly when it’s a big goal or challenge that seems impossible.
A BHAG (pronounced bee-hag) is a tool for strategy development and goal setting. It’s an ambitious goal that may be difficult to attain, but it’s feasible with the right attitude and effort.
In this post, we’ve gathered 23 inspiring examples of BHAGs from successful businesses across different sectors, illustrating the importance of setting stretch goals, embracing uncertainty, and daring to innovate.
From disrupting traditional industries to creating new markets, these BHAGs demonstrate the transformative power of visionary leadership and bold aspirations.
What Are BHAGs?
BHAG stands for big hairy audacious goals. These are long-term aspirational goals that have the power to drive an organization forward and align it around a common purpose.
BHAGs tend to be broad, stretch goals that push employees to think big and challenge them out of their comfort zone. They are the goals that will make people feel “we could never reach that” but also inspire them to try.
These goals could be used to rally people around the same purpose. BHAGs help clarify what the organization wants to accomplish among stakeholders and team members.
Creating BHAGs can jumpstart an organization and give it the focus it needs to achieve its goals. With a well-developed BHAG, teams can set their sights on overarching goals and work together to reach them.
They are not just about setting ambitious goals but also about fostering an environment of innovation. By pursuing them, organizations can spur creativity and challenge their teams to develop new ideas and solutions.
Types of Big Hairy Audacious Goals
BHAGs are long-term goals that inspire and motivate an organization to reach higher success. They can be divided into four main categories: target-oriented, competitive, role model, and internal transformation.
Each type of BHAG has its own set of characteristics and challenges. Organizations can develop a strategic plan that aligns with their mission and values by understanding the different types.
Target-oriented BHAGs are long-term goals an organization sets out to attain within a specific time frame (usually 10 years or longer). These goals should be ambitious and inspiring, representing the organization’s values and objectives.
They should set the company apart from its competitors and rally people around a shared mission. Doing so will help foster clarity and focus among employees.
Well-crafted, target-oriented BHAGs can give the organization a unified purpose to drive its efforts forward. Your company’s BHAG should be big enough to inspire the entire team and encompass the organization’s mission.
Examples of target-oriented BHAGs include:
- Boeing: To be the preferred aerospace partner for airlines, governments, and other customers worldwide.
- Apple: Make products that are easy to use, beautifully designed, and accessible to everyone.
- Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- Microsoft: Putting a computer on every desk and in every home.
Role Model BHAGs
Role model BHAGs involve emulating a successful company from outside the immediate competition. Organizations should look towards that company for inspiration and set their sights on emulating their success.
It could be a company in the same industry or a completely different sector. What matters is that it serves as a source of inspiration and provides guidance in the organization’s efforts.
By learning from the strategies and tactics of successful companies, businesses can apply those lessons to their operations. That will allow them to grow and reach the next level of success.
Examples of role model BHAGs include:
- Stanford University: Become the Harvard of the West.
- Watkins-Johnson Corporation: Become as respected in 20 years as Hewlett-Packard is today.
- Giro Sport Design: Become the Nike of the cycling industry.
Competitive BHAGs are about outdoing your competition. You set a goal to surpass another company’s performance and establish yourself as a market leader.
This type of BHAG requires an in-depth understanding of the competitive landscape and your organization’s capabilities. It is essential to know what you want to achieve and how best to do it.
Creating a competitive BHAG is a rallying call for the company, uniting the team against a common adversary. It facilitates collaboration and learning as everyone aims to overcome that opposition.
Examples of competitive BHAGs include:
- Honda: Yamaha wo tsubusu! We will destroy Yamaha!
- Nike: Crush Adidas.
Internal Transformation BHAGs
Internal transformation BHAGs involve pivoting the business’ strategy to reach higher success. This type of BHAG requires significant planning, foresight, and a clear understanding of your vision and goals.
It can also be difficult, as it involves a significant change in the organization’s operations that can be difficult to implement and may even impact employee morale. Nonetheless, if done correctly, it could lead to a dramatic transformation in the organization’s fortunes.
Examples of internal transformation BHAGs include:
- Ford Motor Company: Transform from an automotive company to a mobility solutions provider.
- Netflix: Shift from a DVD rental company to an online streaming platform.
Why Should a Company Set BHAGs?
BHAGs are an essential part of any organization’s operations. By setting these ambitious goals, companies can rally everyone around the same purpose and allow them to strive for something greater. They help companies stand out from their competition and set the team up for excellence.
Below are a few benefits of establishing BHAGs:
- Increased Motivation: BHAGs inspire and encourage employees to push the boundaries of their capabilities and reach new levels.
- Long-Term Focus: The BHAG framework provides an organization with a roadmap to success, giving them the clarity and focus to plan for the future.
- Improved Collaboration: This approach brings different teams and departments together, fostering an environment of cooperation and collaboration.
- Greater Accountability: With a clear goal to work towards, employees are held accountable for the results they achieve.
- Higher Engagement: BHAGs create a sense of ownership and pride among employees. They feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that their efforts have a real impact.
By setting and accomplishing BHAGs, companies can take their operations to new heights. These goals will inspire everyone associated with the company to strive for greatness and create an environment of innovation.
Best Tips for Developing a BHAG
Are you considering creating a BHAG for your organization? Here are several tips to help you get started:
- Brainstorm ideas. Gather as many ideas as possible from the organization’s stakeholders and employees. That way, you can generate various potential goals aligned with the company.
- Be aspirational. Set an ambitious BHAG that will push the organization to achieve greatness.
- Create clarity. Ensure that everyone in the organization knows and understands the goal and how it can be achieved.
- Ensure alignment. Make sure the BHAG aligns with the organization’s mission, values, and long-term objectives.
- Involve stakeholders. Engage key stakeholders in the process to ensure that everyone is on board with the overall goal.
- Focus on execution. Develop a strategic plan and deadline for achieving the BHAG.
- Celebrate successes. Acknowledge and celebrate small wins along the journey to reaching your target.
- Stay flexible. Be willing to adjust the BHAG as circumstances change or new information comes to light.
23 Big Hairy Audacious Goal Examples
- Amazon: Become Earth’s most customer-centric company.
- Airbnb: To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
- Coca-Cola: To become the biggest-selling soft drink company in the world.
- Tesla: Accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- Walmart: To save people money so they can live better.
- Facebook: Make the world more open and connected.
- IBM: Lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies.
- McDonald’s: To be the world’s best quick-service restaurant experience.
- Starbucks: Inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
- Uber: To make transportation as reliable as running water for everyone, everywhere.
- Disney: Be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.
- Adobe: Become the essential platform for creativity, marketing, and document solutions.
- Dell: To be the most successful computer company in the world.
- Oracle: Become the global leader in information technology solutions.
- Nike: To be the number one athletic company in the world.
- Cisco Systems: To shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners.
- Yahoo!: To be the center of people’s online lives.
- Intel: Be the preeminent building block supplier to the global computer industry.
- General Electric: To be number one or two in every market we serve and change the world with the products and services we create.
- Home Depot: Become America’s one-stop shop for home improvement and to be the best home improvement retailer in the world.
- FedEx: To produce superior financial returns for our shareowners by providing high value-added logistics, transportation, and related business services through focused operating companies.
- Spotify: Unlocking the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the chance to enjoy and be inspired by it.
- Microsoft: Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
BHAGs are a powerful way for organizations to set their sights on ambitious, game-changing goals. By working towards them, companies can promote a culture of collaboration focused on the future.
The BHAG examples above are just the tip of the iceberg; there are countless goals that organizations can strive for. With a clear vision and the proper support, they can be accomplished.
Making BHAGs a part of your operations is the first step toward long-term success. Developing and implementing these goals will take a lot of planning, effort, and dedication, but the rewards will be worth it.
As your company grows and progresses, the possibilities are truly endless. So don’t be afraid to think big—and start dreaming big. Your big hairy audacious goal could be the spark that lights a fire of success.
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