Beat Adidas or skyrocket to Mars: how to set a BHAG and go for it at a breakneck pace

Singapore, Singapore, April 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Here is how to choose one of the four types of Big Hairy Audacious Goals and the reasons why a business needs one. Here is the checklist and best practices from Refocus, an EdTech company providing career development training.

All that remains is to lay out your milestones for success and to move forward with building your ambitious Google-like project. That’s exactly what delivers Roman Kumar Vyas, the founder of Refocus, an EdTech company, that is focused on career developing and broader education. 

  • BHAG Explained

The Big Hairy Audacious Goal term was introduced by American experts Jim Collins and Jerry Porter. They studied the cases of 18 prominent brands and discovered the secrets of their success. The BHAGs of 14 out of 18 organizations helped them become visionary companies.

BHAGS are quite ambitious and somewhat unrealistic goals for the next 10-25 years. They are intended to motivate employees and fuel company growth. 

For example, Microsoft's BHAG is "to put a computer on every desk in every home", while SpaceX's is "to enable human exploration and settlement of Mars."

“Obviously, a big audacious goal should be big, compelling, and audacious. But what does this actually mean?” - says Roman Kumar Vyas, and explains it further.

Let's examine the goal "to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth" set by NASA and John F. Kennedy in 1960 as a BHAG.

Big Hairy Audacious Goal
  • The goal is so big that people don't even imagine it's possible.
  • In 1960, the Americans took Kennedy’s statement as ambitious nonsense.   
  • It solves an extremely complicated problem, so it requires a multi-stage approach.
  • NASA's space technologies couldn't send a man to the Moon at that time. 
  • The project is so audacious that there is approx.a 30% failure rate.  
  • Kennedy didn't even have a step-by-step plan for implementing the BHAG when he introduced it.
  • It outlines clear criteria for reaching the goal.   
  • “In ten years, an American will land on the Moon and get back to the Earth.” That’s a pretty clear milestone. 

  • Is a Big Goal Really Necessary?

A BHAG is essential if you are looking to grow into a visionary company with immense popularity and vast profits. Just one perfect sentence can attract fellow-thinkers, accelerate a company's development, and support your employees during hard times. Moreover, it can catch the attention of investors who are interested in startups with a global-scale mission. If you've thought through your BHAG, adds Roman, your company will stand out from thousands of others to investors. 

The Big Audacious Goal:

  • Boosts your company's performance

Bring your BHAG to the public – your employees, competitors, and customers are all waiting for you to act decisively. Some will bet on your success, while others will crave your failure. It will take 110% effort to become a person of doings, not sayings. Streamlining processes, introducing new technologies, and finding non-trivial solutions are ways to achieve your goal in a short and safe manner.

  • Helps businesses make complex decisions

Ask yourself if each step will lead you to your BHAG before taking it. Consequently, you will manage your funds wisely and choose the right development pathways.

Specifically, Refocus is dedicated to providing educational opportunities, helping people find work, and getting them into in-demand jobs. We based this decision on our BHAG and chose to launch the project in India, Philippines, and Indonesia, where poverty and unemployment are particularly prevalent.

As well, we have set up a career center where we will offer consultations and webinars. So, students can master new skills faster, find a job, and have a more fulfilling life. Such solutions will get us closer to our BHAG, which is our primary objective.   

  • Attracts qualified specialists with similar values  

You can gather up a team of strong fighters who can digest the immensity of your BHAG. If someone on your team doesn't believe in it, then you won't be on the same page. You will be able to attract C-Level executives with impressive experience and skills. They often get interested in ambitious global projects.

When we interview candidates at Refocus, we ask about their personal big goal. That way, we can identify top talent who share our attitude. 

  • Motivates during times of crisis  

It could be a ton of tasks, the launch or a demanding client – BHAG enables you to find the reason and get motivated. “Why do I do this?” Answering this question can lift your spirits during difficult times and prevent burnout.

"When I struggle to complete a routine task, or I cannot control the outside forces, I ask myself: "Do I have the right to give up when an Indian child is now selling something in a slum to survive?" Roman Kumar Vyas says. It sets everything in motion immediately and works for both CEOs and employees.

  • Role Model or Rival Fighter? 4 types of BHAG

All four are equally effective – choose the one that's right for your company. 

  1. Competitive 

You can create a cohesive team to take on the big fish in the industry. With such a goal, your staff will be motivated to outpace the competition.
It is an ideal goal for outsiders and newcomers to an industry. This goal is not for you if you are equal to your rival, because it is easily attainable.

Honda’s BHAG in the 1970s:  “Beat Yamaha!”

Although both companies made bikes, Honda was a newcomer in the 1970s while Yamaha had a well-established position.

Nike’s BHAG in the 1960s: “Defeat Adidas!”

Nike was just beginning its journey, but Adidas had been around since 1949 and was a serious competitor to Puma.

  1. Role Model 

A good way to set such a goal is to take inspiration from a successful company and try to emulate it. Don't copy every step, instead define one aspect that is relevant to your company and adapt it for your needs. 

This option can suit those who have already scored some success and attracted initial investors. You should choose another BHAG type if you are simply testing an idea with a simple MVP.

In 1986, Giro Sport Design set a BHAG to become the Nike of the biking industry. The company was founded in 1985, and after getting the feel of the market it set Nike as the success benchmark.

In 2022, Refocus set a BHAG to become an EdTech version of Facebook. Refocus has a team of talented experts. It has successfully launched and sold the Qmarketing Academy startup in Russia before going international.

  1. Internal Transformation 

This isn't about esotericism or positive affirmations. This BHAG type can help you prioritize your company's internal development, motivate your staff, and restart processes.

The company may benefit from this goal if it lacks progress, or if it already has one BHAG and needs a new one.

Rockwell’s BHAG in 1995 was to evolve from a military contractor into the best multi-industry high tech company. The company had been manufacturing military aircraft since 1903. In 1995, it decided to expand into new markets.   

Merck’s BHAG in the 1930s was to turn a chemicals factory into one of the best pharma companies. The company was established in 1891 but in the 1930s, the drugs and chemicals market changed. Merck had to adapt to the new reality. 

  1. Target Oriented 

This type of BHAG implies that you need to set deadlines, revenue levels or any similar quantitative thresholds. 

This goal is for a company that has no big rival and plans to develop in its own way rather than copy someone’s success. If none of the above types seemed suitable to you, choose this one. 

Google’s BHAG in 1996 was “to organize the world’s information”. The corporation set this goal because other search engines proved ineffective in this task and could not provide users with the necessary information. 

Wal-Mart’s BHAG in 1990 was to become a $125 billion company by 2000. That’s a compelling and long-term goal, as it should be. 

  • Setting a BHAG: A Step-by-Step Guide from Roman Kumar Vyas
  • Analyze your company's development strategy. Pick one large-scale direction that you and your team will find compelling. 
  • If possible, define a socially significant goal. “To provide all people around the globe with educational opportunities” sounds better than “to earn a million dollars for a company”. It is statistically proven that 75% of millennials are willing to sacrifice salary for a socially responsible company.
  • Decide where you want to be in 10 or 20 years.
  • Identify the suitable BHAG type.
  • Give the wording of one inspiring sentence. 

Each BHAG type has its formula:  

1. Competitive goal = verbs “beat / destroy / outpace” + the name of a market leader.
2. Role model goal = verb “become” + the name of a brand you’re aiming to emulate + your industry.
3. Internal transformation goal = verbs “do / change” + description of your current position + the target you are heading to.
4. Target-oriented goal

- Explain how your company's activities can have a positive impact on people's lives.

Here are some inspiring examples.
Evernote’s “Let Evernote remember it all for you”
    SpaceX’s “To enable human exploration and settlement of Mars” 
Facebook’s “To make the world connected” 

“increase revenue” + the company’s name + to Х $ by Y year.

  • Tell your friends about your BHAG. Did they make a "cuckoo" sign and called you crazy? Good job! You're on the right track.  
  • When you set your BHAG, tell the world about it! Incorporate it into your company's manifest, speak about it at meetings, workshops, and presentations.
  • Learn from others' best practices. Refocus staff discussed what their roles would be in 10 years. A lot of thought was put into the future of content, products, technologies, and expertise. While having fun, we also updated our global and strategic mindsets and refreshed our core purpose.
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