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Defining Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal with Glen Dall


North Star over Himalayan Mountains

Finding a North Star Metric

When Jim Collins first discussed what to call a company’s ambitious long-term goal with his coauthor Jerry Porras, Porras recommended naming it something professional-sounding like “corporate mission”. 

Collins, on the other hand, wanted a term that captured the excitement, ambition, and motivation that such a vision could create in an organization. 

He came up with Big Hairy Audacious goal and the term BHAG stuck. 

Inspiring a Strategic Vision

In the 25 years since Collins first coined the term BHAG in Built to Last, leaders have used BHAGs to create focus, provide long-term vision, and excite employees in their organizations. 

Microsoft built an empire around the BHAG, “A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft.” 

Beyond just building powerful businesses, audacious goals have motivated some of humanity’s greatest accomplishments. 

As coach Glen Dall explained during a recent webinar for Align, even before Jim Collins invented the enduring moniker BHAG, big goals were making long shot dreams into reality. 

When John F. Kennedy set the goal of getting a man on the moon by the end of the decade in 1961, it set a vision that aligned the American people behind a common audacious goal. The Americans went on to beat the Soviets to the moon and win the Cold War with the spirit of unity and ambition that the vision had inspired. 

Numerous organizations continue to propel themselves forward in pursuit of their BHAGs. 

The Susan G Komen Foundation for the Cure seeks out “A World without breast cancer”. 

Amazon states their BHAG as: “Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

The list continues of amazing brands who have used a BHAG vision to achieve tremendous success. 

How to Define Your BHAG

Coach Glen Dall has helped numerous companies in a wide array of industries develop big visions, including at the publicly traded company where he served as CEO.   

For Glen, developing a BHAG means understanding the overlap between three critical areas of a business: Passion, Ability, and Financial Viability. 

As illustrated in the graphic below, a BHAG arises from the intersection of:

  • What can your organization be the best in the world at?
  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • What drives your economic engine?

BHAG Vendiagram

From there, a BHAG can emerge as a vision of what achieving that purpose looks like. 

The Ikigai of Business

This model closely resembles the Japanese concept of Ikigai, a model for finding “A Reason for Being”. It is a balance between internal purpose, external usefulness, and passion. 

Ikigai diagram

In his webinar, Glen also discussed creating this kind of vision for personal or family goals. 

A great BHAG ties all of these essential motivators together to develop the kind of vision that excites and impassions.  

Our BHAG

At Align, our core purpose is “Aligning companies and their people on their journey to success.” 

We measure this with the amount of business priorities companies using our product accomplish. We want to be the best software for helping companies achieve their goals, we are deeply passionate about succeeding alongside our users, and we know their success will drive our business as well.  

To cover the overlap of these three areas we developed our ambitious BHAG: “One Billion Priorities Completed!”

Glen’s BHAG Webinar

To learn more about crafting an effective BHAG, you can view Glen’s entire webinar below or schedule some time with an Align advisor. 


If you would like to learn more about how technology can keep your organization on track and propell it towards your BHAG, join us for a demo of Align today!

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