BHAGs were first mentioned in Jim Collin’s book “Built to Last”, however it is important to note that Druck, Welch, Hamel and Peters and Waterman are very consistent with this message.
They all agree that incremental improvement will never stretch your thinking. With BHAGs we are asking what would we need to do to achieve this BHAG. It is not saying if we do not we will be unsuccessful, or that your bonus will not be paid.
The right BHAG will stir the blood and energise the staff and transcend any changes of the CEO. Collins has defined a BHAG as follows:
A BHAG should be so clear and compelling that it requires little or no explanation. Remember, a BHAG is a goal – like climbing a mountain or going to the moon – not a statement. If it doesn’t get people’s juices going, then it’s just not a BHAG
A BHAG should fall well outside the comfort zone. People in the organization should have reason to believe they can pull it off, yet it should require heroic effort and perhaps a bit of luck.
A BHAG should be so bold and exciting in its own right that it would continue to stimulate progress even if the organization’s leaders disappear before it is completed.
A BHAG should be consistent with an organisation’s core ideology
You may wish to read these great books by Jim Collins
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, HarperBusiness 1994
Jim Collins, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”, HarperBusiness, 2001
Jim Collins “How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In”. Jim Collins 2009
You may wish also to read my Winning Leadership Whitepaper