I was first introduced to BHAG's during my graduate work in administration @ Central Michigan University. Although I was just starting out as a school administrator, I felt that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and step into the business sector. It was my attempt at becoming a Renaissance man to some small degree. In many ways I learned that the education sector is a lot like the business sector in regards to dealing with people, but it also opened my eyes to a great deal of organizational and behavioral practices.
The phrase Big Hairy Audacious Goal ("BHAG") was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1996 article entitled Building Your Company's Vision. A BHAG (BEE-hag) is a form of vision statement "...an audacious 10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future." A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines (courtesy of wikipedia).
Although BHAG's are more focused on a team approach, I still like the idea. Besides saying BHAG is pretty cool. Try saying it three times fast.
As runners, we all need a goal or finish line to run towards. The potential pitfall is ending up on the Couch of Doom talking about what could have been and if I only. My BHAG at the beginning of 2008 was my self imposed D.D.M.C. A marathon a month. Given that I the most I had run was 3 marathons in a year, 12 seemed like a real long shot. In my head, I thought that if I could accomplish this, that a potential 100 miler in 2009 was a real possibility. I was only able to muster 10 marathons in 2008, but I ran faster then I ever have, qualified for Boston, and learned more about myself on the roads then by reading any book. And yes, I think a 100 miler is on the table for 2009 since I can't race Boston this year.
A finish line or goal gives a sense of purpose to our training, motivates us to get out the door when it is still dark and cold, and unknowingly seeps into our everyday life. I tell a lot of my students that you just can't turn on and off your behavior. It is much like the effect running has on our lives. Showing that dedication and fortitude in training unknowingly pays dividends in your own personal and professional lives because you have a sense on how to focus your effort when there is a goal or finish line in front of you.
So what's your BHAG for 2009?