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Big Hairy Audacious Anxieties

by Rick Baker
On Feb 7, 2017

Back in 2011, I had concerns about “Big Hairy Audacious Goals”. [BHAGs are a concept promoted by ‘Good to Great’ guru, Jim Collins.]

I think Jim Collins has provided terrific advice for business people. In particular, I embrace his “Hedgehog Concept”. However, I have heard many small-business leaders express confusion about Collins’ advice. The confusion is around ‘extent’:

  • Good to Great”: OK - How great is great? [Does everyone have to aim for multi-billion dollar targets?]
  • Hedgehog “Best in the World”: Is that too big a goal?
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goals’: Is audacity the right direction?

If you want to be recognized as “Great” and compete with major, international organizations then I get it. You must be big. You must be exceptional. You must set extreme targets. You must be a rock superstar. You must be audacious [or something comparable…like disruptive…or magical.] In other words - if you want to be recognized as “Great” then you must excel in all the areas covered in classics like ‘Think and Grow Rich.

The questions that should be considered are:

  • Who wants to be recognized as “Great”? [I mean “Great” as defined by Jim Collins.]
  • How many business people can become “Great”? [Again, I mean “Great” as defined by Jim Collins.]
  • Should small-business leaders embrace the recommendations in Jim Collins’ ‘Good to Great’?

Reality Check…

Many small-business people dream about being “Great”. But rarely do small business leaders do the things necessary to even have a chance at being great. Worse still, most readers of ‘Good to Great’ are not leading “Good” businesses when they are thinking about building “Great” businesses. Considering this, ‘Good to Great’ concepts probably do more damage than good at small businesses. The concepts confuse leaders who, misguided, relay the confusion to their people. The result is – many small-business leaders quote Jim Collins while few have an understanding of the realities of mediocre-to-good changes let alone good-to-great changes.

In addition, when people promote BHAGs everybody seems to ignore the psychological realities. For most people, big hairy audacious goals generate big hairy audacious anxieties…ruining relationships, obliterating the chance of success, and destroying spirit.


Emotions & Feelings @ Work | Goals - SMARTACRE Goals

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