BHAG and the Benefits of Taking a More Strategic View

By Jessica Wishart

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dateTue, Apr 26, 2022 @ 11:04 AM

Industries are changing rapidly, workplaces are in flux and the future feels uncertain. Taking a more agile approach to strategic planning makes sense. Rather than looking at three years or five years with any degree of confidence, many of our clients are choosing to look at what they can do this year or in the next two years, and they will face the brutal facts and adjust each quarter if the market or other circumstances have changed.
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However, I'd argue your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is different (or see BHAG examples). Even if you can be more agile without a clearly defined, buttoned-down five-year plan in place, you still need a BHAG. "Wait a minute, I can't plan for three years, but you still want me to plan for 10-25 years out? That's nuts!"
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That may be so, but here is why you still need to have a longer-term strategic vision for the future:
  1. It motivates the team. Even if you don't exactly know how you will get there and can't imagine five years from now for your business, having a clear vision for your company's future will rally the team around an exciting goal and get them motivated to push in the right direction every day.
  2. It's an execution advantage. If the route is uncertain, but you know the destination, you can successfully navigate detours and still get where you are going. If you don't have a destination in mind, you can go nowhere. Having a BHAG is like having a treasure map with a big red X on it: you might not know how to get around all the obstacles, but you are motivated to figure it out and take action rather than being stalled out.
  3. It will help you be agile in the shorter term. If you have tough decisions to make now (ex., Do we sell our office and go fully remote? Do we double down on our core product and scrap the rest of the line? Do we bring our supply chain in-house? Do we seek outside investment?), having the BHAG as the lens to make those decisions will help you move faster and be more intentional. Without a longer view and goal in mind, you can get bogged down trying to make these decisions.
  4. It can inspire creativity and stretch your team to think differently. Looking at your company right now. You may be in survival mode, and things feel unpredictable, and it can be hard to get that innovation engine going—the possibilities are limited, and the mindset is fixed. The possibilities are endless when you widen the scope to a period like 10-25 years. Thinking about the future allows you to generate more ideas for growth and could help you get unstuck in the moment.
Need help stretching the team to think strategically? Our expert facilitators have successfully navigated this process in person and virtually with companies of every size and industry. We'd love to share patterns of success and guide your team through a process to determine the right BHAG to propel your execution, alignment and innovation forward.
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Jessica Wishart


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images