What’s Your BHAG?

If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.
–Robert Fritz

That ties in to today’s Word Spy phrase. I love that newsletter. What’s your BHAG?

BHAG (BEE.hag) acronym.

An ambitious or difficult plan or goal.

Example Citation
So each June, Leland stands before his highly decorated coaches and presents his BHAGs. He also reviews the BHAGs from the previous year, discussing both the successes and the shortcomings. If the problems are administrative, he readily accepts responsibility.

”He sits there in front of everybody with his goals, and he’s kind of naked,” Gould said. ”And then he has the guts to say, ‘I let you down here.’ It’s tremendous.”

Whether he’s in a group or an individual setting, Leland’s delivery has just the right voltage. Too little, and the BHAGs would ring hollow. Too much, and they would seem threatening.–Jon Wilner, “Crystal-clear vision,” San Jose Mercury News, June 11, 2003

BHAG is an acronym for the great phrase “big, hairy, audacious goal.” It was coined by Stanford professors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. They used it in their book Built to Last, which was published in October 1994, but as the earliest citation shows, Collins was using the acronym and phrase as early as 1992.

Earliest Citation
There are two basic parts of an effective vision: First is a “Guiding Philosophy”—a set of core values and principles like the Declaration of Independence. Second is a bold mission, or what I like to call a BHAG—a big, hairy, audacious goal—like our national goal in the ’60s to go to the moon by the end of the decade. [If a company says] “Our BHAG is to revolutionize telecommunications technology on the earth,” then that company has some way to determine up and down the line whether people are doing things consistent with that vision. Is everyone aligning with it by setting goals in accord with the BHAG? Are they committing their resources to it? Are they putting most of their efforts in that direction?
–Jim Collins, interview with Tom Brown, “On the edge with Jim Collins,” Industry Week, October 5, 1992

See Also


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Words About Words
Until we learn the use of living words we shall continue to be waxworks inhabited by gramophones.
–Walter de la Mare, English poet and novelist, The Observer, May 12, 1929

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Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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