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Achieving Your Organization’s BHAG


BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal – “a strategic business statement similar to a vision statement which is created to focus an organization on a single medium-long term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible”. (Wikipedia)

You have your Vision and Mission statements, but do you have your BHAG for the year? More importantly, how do you successfully drive the organization to achieve it?

One way to do it is to create “theme related” events that will involve all employees and help them get emotionally connected and committed to be part of the organization achieving the BHAG. These themes are what transfers a company goal into a company- wide mission, and they need to connect employees with not just their heads but more importantly their hearts.

Encourage the Heart

In their book “The Leadership Challenge”, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner speak of the need of CEOs to “encourage the heart” when seeking organizational alignment. For example, when Michael Dell of Dell Computer rallied his troops against a challenge from Compaq, he didn’t just declare war on Compaq, he made the whole office a war zone. He donned army fatigues, strung camouflage netting throughout headquarters, and addressed his sales and production “squadrons” as if briefing them for a mission of no return. It worked and today Dell became one of the top five branded PC vendors.

The most powerful themes are anchored in quantitative goals that are aligned to a major priority of the organization. They could be annual growth rate numbers, sales numbers, customer service rates or anything that is a top priority for the organization. Involving members, from different levels of the team, in creating a plan to achieve the BHAG and design tools to measure quarterly traction, would set a team atmosphere that people could feel committed to achieve.

For example, Sapp Bros. Leasing, a truck leasing business wanted to achieve 100 new leases by St Patrick’s Day. They asked a front office staff person with creative talents to design a shamrock chart poster featuring 100 beautiful shamrocks to track their progress. Each time a new lease was signed another shamrock would be numbered, a monetary payout would take place, and everyone could see the progress towards the team goal. The efforts of the front office staff member enhanced the experience for everybody including herself.

The Team That Celebrates Together...

Finally, besides planning and tracking to the BHAG, rewarding and celebrating for achieving milestones along the journey are also essential. Rewards do not always have to be monetary, and sometimes non- monetary recognition can be more influential for team building.

When I accepted the role of National Sales Director for a high-tech firm, one of the first things that I was trying to do was break down silos in one of our largest branches and rebuild a team atmosphere. There was a local sports bar that had a put-put golf course, bowling lane, basketball hoops, dart boards plus many big screen TVs. We had administration, sales, engineering and service groups within the organization.

I invited everyone in the branch to come out and celebrate some achievements, have fun and get to know each other outside the office. We divided the group into mixed teams and held fun competitions in all of the areas. During the evening one of the administration ladies came up to me and said, “thank you for inviting us – we have never been invited to be part of any previous celebrations”.

Members of teams must feel included. Even some of our suppliers who supplied some fun rewards for the competition, enjoyed being part of the event and building relationships with more of our people.

Include everyone in your team in rewarding and celebrating the achievement of your organization’s BHAG.

Want to learn more about how to motivate a team to greater performance?
Download our guide Positive Feedback Management - The Most Effective People Management Tool There Is

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