What is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)?

What is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)?  According to the creators, James Collins and Jerry Porras, it is a goal that is “clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” (Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies)  In short, it’s a medium- to long-term goal that lays out a clear (but difficult) vision, and motivates employees to achieve that goal. Let’s take a look at some examples of BHAGs.

Big Hairy Audacious GoalMicrosoft, Inc. ®

One of the most famous came from Microsoft’s founders, Bill Gates and Paul Allen.  In 1980, they declared their intention to “put a computer on every desk and in every home.”  At the time, only 1 million personal computers existed worldwide.  In 2002, a consumer bought the 1 billionth computer ever produced.  It’s estimated that, at present, there are approximately 2 billion computers in use.  They have not reached their BHAG, but they’ve made significant headway, and Bill Gates became the world’s richest man in the process.                                                                                                                                                                             Photo Credit: Fuse

Kennedy’s NASA Mission

In 1962, John F. Kennedy issued another famous BHAG: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”  Kennedy’s BHAG came to fruition on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 landed safely on the moon and then safely returned the astronauts home to earth.


Elon Musk may be the modern-day king of BHAGs.  His automotive company, Tesla, set out to prove that electric cars are superior to gasoline cars and that sustainable transportation is not only feasible but superior to traditional combustion engines.  Tesla’s wildly successful (and expensive) Model S recently earned Consumer Reports‘ highest-ever score.  Although they still comprise only a small percentage of the market, their forthcoming Model 3 will drastically slash prices to a more affordable $35,000, bringing Tesla’s innovation to a far wider customer base.  Musk hopes this increased affordability will force other automotive companies to abandon combustion engines, creating an automotive industry based around sustainable resources.  This is all part of his BHAG.

Musk’s other company, SpaceX, set even larger BHAGs: colonizing Mars and revolutionizing space exploration.  To achieve these goals, Musk and his team are creating rapidly reusable rockets that, ultimately, will slash space travel costs 100-fold.  Musk predicts SpaceX will put the first humans on Mars by 2026 – around 10 years before NASA.  Musk’s employees are hard at work to turn a long-time science fiction dream into reality.

What’s Your Company’s BHAG?

What, then, does your company need to establish a BHAG?  Vision, primarily.  Companies must analyze their products or services and figure out a suitably difficult goal. A company without goals wanders aimlessly, and will never achieve the great heights of Microsoft, 1960s NASA, or either of Elon Musk’s game-changing companies. Establishing a BHAG is the first step toward a world-changing product or service.

Do you want help identifying your company’s BHAG? Contact us today!

Hyper Growth Business Strategies can help you with the goal, communication and measuring progress against the BHAG!