Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) -Having a BHAG for a median technology company a fad or a must?

Examples of BHAG for median tech company could be as audacious as below:
“Billion Dollar Exit, Period”

“Top 3 SI on Microsoft Azure and AWS”

BHAG-A common term in corporate strategy (coined by Jim Collins in his book Built to Last) generally refers to supreme zenith a corporate would strive towards achieving it in life cycle of its existence.

Big here is relative to the life cycle of the company.  In current years, where life span of the PE backed tech companies is less than 10 years prior to its exit (Avg. holding period of PE backed tech portfolio company is around 5-6years), the conventional BHAG timeframe of 10-30 years is transformed to relatively short span.  Challenging the fundamentals of BHAG, young companies especially tech companies need to think if having a BHAG is even applicable to them and how does it fit in its organizational timeframe of existence.

The disruptive evolution of technology, AI, machine learning and fairly easy access to capital have made it possible to achieve the goals, mission, BHAG faster than what we have historically seen in the past with traditional companies.

The short life span of today’s technology companies (typical PE backed technology company) indirectly favors one major problem we used to encounter traditionally, that is losing credibility of a defined BHAG when it was being changed every few years, because there is no enough longevity for most of today’s smaller players in tech industry to warrant and see a change in BHAG.

Given the complexities, lofty expectations and tremendous pressure from Investors & Board to achieve the extraordinary results faster than ever, changing industry dynamics and skilled-resource focused businesses, a BHAG for today’s tech companies is inevitable. In general, a company would have a vision statement and usually good in articulating that and building/executing strategy around it, but having a BHAG reinforces business fundamentals, injects energy and keeps momentum going on continuous basis with employees every day.  It is also evident that companies are struggling or have shown little improvement in motivating employees on continuous basis if it resorts to just traditional method of motivating employees- such as offering higher salary than market etc. The most successful companies have experienced that creating a cohesive mindset among all employee/stakeholders and challenging to go above and beyond have proved to be their secret sauce of success.

It’s that strive towards achieving the BHAG (whether expressed explicitly or not) that has enabled the extra ordinary and unimaginable improvement in tech industry in the recent years. So companies should think of this powerful enabler and formalize it.

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