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Goals – Part 3: Bigger and hairier…but WHY?

The business world has introduced me to the BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal. We do love our acronyms, but we don’t need to keep them all. Your BHAG may sound impressive, but it won’t go far in gaining employee buy-in or making steady, sustainable progress.

Send BHAG packing……….!

To begin a more effective approach to setting business goals, a definition is in order. Within this context, a “goal” is a specific target for a measurable metric that can be monitored over time. A strong goal is different from (but directly related to) a desired business outcome. Ask yourself, WHY should the company strive to reach this goal?” The answer to that question is the desired business outcome. If you do not have an answer to that question, STOP RIGHT NOW because every aspect of successful goal-based management depends upon a proven link between the goal metric and your desired outcome.




Specific Value

Business Outcome


Total fixed costs

10% reduction

Increased net income


Customer complaint rate


Higher overall satisfaction with transactions


Simplicity is important here. Consider #1 above. It might be tempting to jump straight to a goal of $X in net income, but consider all the factors involved in achieving that goal. Your “goal” is not a wish. It is something that you will have to manage, so do your best to make it manageable. If your business requires a lofty goal, break it down into components that you can work with.   

Once you have identified your desired outcome and the associated metric(s), some questions remain:

·         What should be the target value of the chosen metric?

·         What timeframe should be set for achieving the goal?

·         How can I communicate the importance of this goal to gain employee support?

·         Do monetary incentives work?

·         What happens when the goal is achieved?

Stay tuned….


Cortney Lantry

Director, Marketing Sciences

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