Why I Loathe the BHAG

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If you have a documented BHAG as part of your business plan, then your business plan is probably doing more damage than good in your organisation.

Maybe you’ll get lucky. In fact, I’m being too harsh – after all, there’s a good chance most of your team don’t even know what’s in your business plan. And what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

See, I don’t just loathe BHAGs because of how ugly that combination of letters are. They’re a classic example of private companies ‘copying the wrong homework’, trying to do something that a thin sliver of the world’s greatest organisations sometimes do in the hope that it’s a crazy idea on a wall that will change their business, rather than, you know, actually doing something difficult.

Don’t take my word for it – in this week’s episode I take you through the research into BHAG application in small to medium businesses, and the 3 categories of companies where they fail … sometimes making a bad situation worse.

If you’ve never heard of a BHAG before, count your lucky stars – watch and learn why you want to avoid the cult of the Big Hairy Arsed Goal (often called the Big Hairy Audacious Goal, as if that makes the word BHAG less grotesque).

And it you’re a lover and a defender of the BHAG, and you can’t bear to have it’s reputation besmirched by this bozo on a blackboard – then watch and learn the one, very rare, type of company where having a lofty moonshot goal may, and I stress MAY, just work.

Watch this week’s episode here, and direct your hatemail to the reply address above.

Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?

“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.

Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.

At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.

You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.

That’s me.

Learn more here. Or Let’s chat.


of all the business terms I’ve comeacross in more than a decade ofinternational business coaching the oneI love the most is the bee hag nowpartly this is just the writer in methat thinks that that is just such anugly combination of lettersnobody ever rolled that out on aScrabble board and said wow howbeautiful is that but also when I seeBea Haig getting implemented intoorganizations I see it actually havingthe opposite effect to what is desiredinstead of it motivating the team toachieve something extraordinary itactually undermines the team and theobjectives of that business so here in abusiness rather than a literary sense iswhy I dislike the bee hag and the onevery very specific set of circumstancesin which it has been shown to work sothat you can determine whether youshould disagree with me and go ahead andimplement one for you anyway if you’renot familiar a bee hag is an acronym itstands for a big hairy audacious goal inAustralia the audacious is sometimes apart of the anatomy that starts with ourand is also often hairy but it’s seen asthat being clear and compelling visionthat mission that we’re all workingtowards in built to last the author’stalked about it as the bold mission andused which is the most common exampleused for a bee hag the United Statesmoon mission JFK standing up at theUniversity and saying by the end of thisdecade we will have put a man on themoon and return him safely to this earththat is a big hairy whatever kind ofgoal it’s big and it’s out there doesthat translate into business well thefirst thing I see when most businessowners share their organizationstructures missions culture with me isthat they have a bee hag that’s eithersmall or frankly somewhat ridiculoushere are the questions you’ve got to askabout whether your bee hag is actuallygoing to achieve those outcomesdoes it stimulate progress in yourbusiness in your industry or is it aside thing that’s completely irrelevantto the actual progress of your businessdoes it create momentum so does havingthat goal get the energy and themomentum flowing in your business tomove in that direction does it stimulatecreativity does it get the creativejuices of your team flowing and mostimportantly is remembering that whatyou’re looking to do is tap into thediscretionary talent and energy of youremployees not everybody brings a hundredpercent of themselves to work all dayevery day I mean we need to sleepwe need to re-energize we have downtimethat’s fine that’s normal a great be hagtaps into more of those individuals itneeds to be bigger and quite a good dealbigger than just your quarterly or yourannual goals if it’s only those annualgoals then the team are going to dowhatever they normally do to achievethose they’re not going to put in thatextra effort because they’re excitedthey’re motivated and they can see howthis will change the business and theworldthat’s your be hag meet those criteriaor is it just a funny kind of thing youthrew into your strategic plan thatmakes people get a little bit excited orhave a bit of a giggle okay so you’vegot the B hag and it does meet thosecriteria will it actually help yourbusiness or will it set it back and thisis something that surprises people whenI walk them through the research thatHarvard Business Review did into theapplication of B hags they’ve found moreoften than not they cause issues ratherthan achieving great outcomes and itlinks to the prior goals that you’ve hadin the business and the prior successthen your team have had meeting them sowe start with this box here let’s say inthe past your business has had prettylow objectives your revenue targetshaven’t really been massive you haven’tone of themto run at full capacity you’ve had somefairly average ordinary low goals andyet the team has still failed to meetthem now if you put a bee hag into thatteam if you go hey guys we’ve neveractually successfully built any kind ofvehicle and last time we tried to youknow go outside the office we all gothay fever and had to come back in butwe’re going to put a man on the moonit’s too big it’s too far a stretch theteam are not going to be connected inany way and they’re probably laughingabout you behind your back for evenputting it out there this is not a goodspot to implement a behave this is agood spot to redesign your business towork out why your team of failing to meeven the lowest objectives now let’s sayyou’ve had some higher goals you knowthese are over and above industrystandards you’ve pushed the team toachieve them and unfortunately theystill have not it’s this a good time tothrow a be hag on them absolutely notright now this team is D motivated theywere given some goals and even thoughthey were a stretch the team failed toachieve them and they’re feeling alittle bit deflated about that yourfocus here is remote evading themperhaps giving them the same goals withsome different ways to approach them toget them to achieve those goals andknock them out of the park if you put abee hag on top of that this team aregoing to sit there and go well you gaveus these annual goals that were astretch and we failed now you’ve gotthis clear compelling mission you thinkwe’re going to do that uh-huh again theenergy of your team determines whetherthe behave will succeed so let’s talkabout teams that have achieved theirprior goals in this case they’ve gone inand they’ve had low goals not much of astretch but they’ve achieved them patthemselves on the back is this a time tothrow a bee hag at them no still no notquite ready you have reached a steppingstone this is the point at which you canPat the team on the back acknowledgetheir success in achieving their goalsand start to stretch the goals start togive them some slightly biggerchallengeswithout yet going to the full giant jumpthat comes with the be hag and so it’sthe final category where you have hadhigh goals for your team in the past andthey have achieved those goals this iswhere Abbi hag has been shown to havesome benefit because you have a highperforming team already they’ve beenstretched with some goals and they’veachieved them they’ve knocked them out

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