Big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They traditional differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are usually 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
Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. I explain the merits of using BHAGs in this fashion in the following episode of TalentTalks.