Do You Have a BHAG?


Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it?

In “Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) was found in what the authors titled as visionary companies – organization that have lasted through the years. The BHAG “is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort – often creating immense team spirit … A BHAG engages people – it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused.”

Basically, a BHAG is a stimulating goal that is quite big, a little scary and sometimes seems unreasonable to outsiders. However, the team is committed to it, and it’s a driver of the organization’s goals. You can ask yourself these questions, as provided by the book, when determining what your BHAG is and if you even have one:

  • Does your BHAG stimulate forward progress?
  • Does it create momentum?
  • Does it get people going?
  • Does it get people’s juices flowing?
  • Do they find it stimulating, exciting, adventurous?
  • Are they willing to throw their creative talents and human energies into it?
  • Does it fit your core ideology?

One of the things I found most interesting in this chapter was the fact the authors brought the word “hubris” to describe a BHAG. “One of our research assistants observed highly visionary companies seem to have self-confidence bordering on hubris – the dictionary defines hubris as ‘overbearing pride, confidence or arrogance.’ We came to call this the ‘hubris factor.’ In mythological terms, you might think of it as taunting the gods. To set Big Hairy Audacious Goals requires a certain level of unreasonable confidence,” wrote the authors.

So, from the outside, BHAGs can look slightly crazy. But, those on the inside who see the innerworkings and the decisions behind the goal don’t see it that way. “It simply never occurred to them they couldn’t do what they set out to do,” shared the authors.

That brings about my question for you today: What is your BHAG? D0 you have one? If so, what is it? If not, why don’t you?

BHAGs keep companies and organizations from getting stale and falling behind. You need something stimulating progress; so, perhaps it’s time to look and see what’s big, hairy and audacious in order to create your very own BHAG.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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