3 Surprising Truths about Big Goals

Jim Collins explains the acronym BHAG – big harry audacious goal – in Built to Last.

Big goals and weekend jeans have nothing in common.

We say stupid things because everyone else says it. Give 110%, failure is not an option, think outside the box, and big goals are common meaningless blather. You’re a hazard when you casually say we need to set big goals.

Frivolous language is dangerous because it obscures meaning. Why is big-goal-language pervasive? It makes average leaders feel important. It gives the impression we know something when we don’t.

Big numbers are like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, fictional things made up by leaders who haven’t done their homework.

Big goals and weekend jeans have nothing in common. Image of two people relaxing in the back of a vehicle.

Big goals are often fabricated numbers made-up on the way to meetings. Someone thinks, “How can I get more out of people? I got it! We need to increase production by 25%.” (After all, you’re inadequate if you set small goals.)

3 surprising truths about big goals:

#1. Strength

A BHAG makes your knees buckle. Do you feel strong standing beside your big goal? If you do, it might be a good goal, but it’s not a BHAG.

Big goals make you feel weak.

Big goals: When you aim high you are forced to reach out. Image of the moon.

#2. Others

BHAGs force you to link arms with others. When you aim high you are forced to reach out. Who can help?

You need a team to reach the moon.

If you can go alone, it might be a good goal but it’s not a BHAG.

#3. Thinking

Big goals force you to rethink. You might be able to increase production by 10% by adding people and working harder. But you must rethink the way you work to double production.

Aiming high deserves more than casual thinking.

What do you know about setting BHAGs?

Still curious:

Why Goals are Dangerous and How to Make them Work

Jim Collins – Concepts – BHAG