4 Signs You Should Drop Your BHAG

Like Don't move Unlike

Updated from August 26, 2013 post

Everyone loves a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, but sometimes you should drop it and play Small Ball.

When Jim Collins introduced leaders to the idea of the “Big hairy audacious goal” (BHAG) in his 1994 classic, Built to Last, he changed the vocabulary of leaders everywhere.

Almost overnight leaders became obsessed with coming up with the BHAG for their company, church, or organization. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to cast a vision for a dream that was outlandish, fantastic and, indeed, audacious.

Perhaps you’re one of them.

And perhaps you’re one of the countless leaders who has been trying relentlessly to conjure up a BHAG, only to find that sometimes it just doesn’t seem to come together.

It could very well be that the problem is that not every season is ripe for a BHAG. Sometimes you need to play “Small Ball”.

In baseball, Small Ball is a strategy in which a team strives to win not by making big extra base hits, but merely by methodically, and consistently, getting on base and advancing runners.

Sometimes leaders need to recognize when it’s time to set aside the BHAG, and to focus on Small Ball; moving forward by regularly and consistently racking up small “wins”.

It means knowing when to cling to a goal to “Plant 20 new churches by 2020!” (BHAG), versus “Growing our existing church every year by 10%” (Small Ball).

It means knowing when to hang on to the plan to “Hold a stadium outreach event by next summer” (BHAG), versus “Training every adult in our church in personal evangelism” (Small Ball)

When should you consider a Small Ball strategy? There’s no hard rule on this, but you should at least consider a Small Ball approach when:

  • Your BHAG just isn’t galvanizing your people,
  • Your BHAG is distracting your team from immediate opportunities,
  • You haven’t seen meaningful progress towards your BHAG in some time.
  • You are already seeing more momentum being generated from small wins than you are from your BHAG

BHAGS can be very important, so don’t drop yours on a whim or at the first sign of struggle. But if your BHAG just isn’t catching fire with your people, consider whether now may be the time for a change in tact.

Because your biggest wins might not come from a grand slam, but from just getting on base.

How have you leveraged small wins to generate momentum?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *