BHAGs are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.
BHAGs can come in several flavors. Most are focused on one of four broad categories: reaching a defined target or metric, competition, organizational change, or reputation. Here are a few examples from some companies you’ve probably never heard of…
-Reaching a defined target
“Attain 1 billion customers worldwide” – Citicorp, 1990s
“Crush Adidas” – Nike, 1960s
“Transform this company from a chemical manufacturer into one of preeminent drug-making companies in the world.” –Merck, 1930s
“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” – Sony, 1950s
Wait - Nike wasn't always the leader? Japanese products were once considered low quality before Japan was kicking our ass in the 80's?
Well, before the world as we know it at Nike and Sony became the reality, leaders at those companies created a BHAG as a single unified vision for their people to rally around.
You know who else is good at BHAGs? Elon Musk. Musk basically BHAG'd his way into Tesla and Space X becoming great companies.
Electric Car with quality and luxury? BHAG.
Reusable rockets with segments that can land back on earth on pads? B-freaking-HAG.
Well, here comes Musk again, probably the most adept user of BHAGs in the world. The topic is Mars - more from The Guardian:
Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024.
Last year Musk proposed an earlier plan for the spacecraft, but at the time had not developed a way of funding the project. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide Australia on Friday, Musk said the company had figured out a way to pay for the project.
The key, he said, was to “cannibalise” all of SpaceX’s other products. Instead of operating a number of smaller spacecrafts to deliver satellites into orbit and supply the International Space Station, Musk said the BFR would eventually be used to complete all of its missions. “If we can do that then all the resources that are used for Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy can by applied to this system,” he said.
BFR. Musk isn't messing around. The BHAG is set.
If history tells us nothing else, it tells us that Musk will probably make it happen. Maybe not by 2024, but you can't have a BHAG without making it seem impossible.