Everyone loves the story of the underdog who, armed with nothing but a dream, embarks on a journey where he/she overcomes numerous obstacles to achieve something great.
Hollywood is full of these inspirational examples, movies like; Star Wars. Rudy. Kung Fu Panda. The Karate Kid. Braveheart. 8 Mile… The list goes on and on.
A common theme within almost every film is something that we in the business world call a BHAG. The term BHAG (pronounced bee-hag) was pioneered in the business book by Jim Collins called Built To Last. BHAG stands for a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, and is a challenging goal that seems slightly out of reach or is a giant stretch to accomplish.
Tying the BHAG into a few of the stories mentioned earlier. Luke from Star Wars realized his BHAG was to defeat the evil Darth Vader and overcome the Dark Side. In the movie Rudy, an undersized factory worker with marginal grades, dreams of attending and playing football at the University of Notre Dame. William Wallace in the movie Braveheart fought and died for Scottish Independence against the King of England. All of these stories, (some based on real events while others remain pure fiction) are fundamentally driven by goals that were a significant stretch for the characters to achieve… BHAG’s!
Speaking from what we’ve experienced here at Triton Metal Products, BHAG’s are the best way to push an organization towards something great. For us, just committing to a daunting challenge has helped drive us to raise the bar and get innovative as we work to accomplish the goal. And yes, we’ve had goals in the past, but, we’ve discovered that there are fundamental differences between a real BHAG and an abstract wish.
Defining the BHAG.
1. It must be something big, but achievable. A BHAG is something that you’re working towards long-term, it’s just out of reach, and the journey alone will stretch you. But, while it may take time and resources to accomplish, achieving the goal cannot be an impossibility.
2. It’s clear and compelling. Jim Collins says “A true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort– often creating immense team spirit.”
3. It includes a plan for victory. A BHAG is a tangible, long term goal, with a specific plan for achievement. A goal without a plan is only a wish. Before settling on our current BHAG of becoming a recognized (and verified) top employer in the State of Indiana within the next ten years, we never really took the time as leaders to discuss long term goals. The goals we did have were often superficial, sales focused, and not supported by any intentional thought or planning. Resolving to be selected as a top employer within a specific period was the catalyst that forced us to develop specific plans to accomplish the goal. These plans push us to grow and help us to improve continuously as we reach for success. Again, Jim Collins reminds us that an effective BHAG “…has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.”
4. It ties into the company purpose. In a previous article, we shared that our driving purpose is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. By becoming a top employer in the state of Indiana, we will make a significant difference in the lives of others. It impacts our Tritons, our community, and it means we’re able to better serve our customers in the right way because we’re a company with the right people on board, all working together to accomplish something great. Our BHAG plays perfectly alongside the Triton purpose.
Our BHAG, to become a top employer within the state of Indiana, is not about recognition, being recognized is just how we’ll know we’ve hit the mark. It’s more about the culture. It’s about raising the bar and becoming a great place to work. This is bigger than perks and benefits, our BHAG helps us focus on what we do inside the walls here and how it impacts everyone, together. It’s not just something we put on a plaque or inside our handbook. It’s how we think, and how we live it out every day.
More than just a plot in a Hollywood blockbuster, a BHAG is a must have for any organization seeking to take their business to the next level. We hope our journey inspires you to uncover the BHAG that matters most to your organization, so you and your team can reach higher.
John Freudenberger; CEO of Triton Metal Products, located in Hamilton Indiana.
John has helped Triton Metal Products maintain an exciting growth streak through innovative process adoption and operation expansions. Catapulting growth even further was the decision to embark on a company-wide brand development project, designed to unearth what makes Triton different, and why that should matter. John’s leadership has helped “Making a Meaningful Difference” become a unifying promise that positively impacts the Triton culture, the solutions they provide for their customers, and the communities they serve.