Missions, BHAGs & Business Plans

By Pam Watson Korbel, Interim Executive and Corporate Director  and CWCC Member

As an interim CEO, corporate director and business consultant, I have spent the last fifteen years inside more than 200 businesses helping them find the right formula for growth.  Everyone who has $5 million in revenue today wants to figure out how to make that $50 million right.

I’ve discovered in the process two types of companies:

  1.  Those that just do work every day – tasks – because there is always a customer or an employee that needs something.
  2. Those that work well every day because they know what they are working toward.   They have a mission, big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) and business plan.

Here’s my standard comment about companies in category #1 – If it’s okay with you to tread water, stay where you are, not grow, then feel free to just keep doing “stuff” every day.

My formula for growth is grounded in focus.  That probably comes from my innate sense that I have to see the bigger picture and always know where I’m going. You probably guessed that when I’m driving,  I use maps and navigation systems.

In your business, your navigation system is your mission, big hairy audacious goal and your business plan.  Here’s some thoughts on each:

1.  Mission – What is your business purpose?  Why does the business exist?  Besides making money, what will your business accomplish for society?  The tool I like best for your mission development comes from the book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, and his program through Gazelles Inc. (www.gazelles.com).

2. Big Hairy Audacious Goal – In my consulting, this key strategic component (from Jim Collins, www.jimcollins.com) is missing too frequently.  Your big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) is that singular goal that defines where you want your business to be in 10-15 years.  Here are some examples:

  • The fast-growth software company that wants to merge into Oracle by 2022.
  • The local engineering firm that wants a national presence by 2020.
  • The healthcare non-profit that wants an endowment of $50 million by 2025

3.  Business Plan – Much ado has been focused on business plans and because so, many companies disdain the topic.  In my view, the business plan is simply your annual marketing plan for the year, your annual human resources plan, and your budget.  Like many onerous tasks, if you simplify them using the “Swiss cheese” approach (one slice at a time), then the plan becomes more doable.  And then the key is to use the plans as working documents in every management meeting for the year.  (The best business plans are the ones with coffee stains all over them.)

As you approach the new year, think about your mission, big hairy audacious goal and business plan.  Here’s a good quote to stay grounded:  “The great secret of success is self-discipline – getting yourself to do what you really need to do – choosing to do what you feel is right and will bring the results you want into your life –  long term.   It is bringing order and efficiency  into your life-. . .  creating structure in your life and doing this enthusiastically! Success comes from taking charge of yourself and feeling proud of yourself when you do.  The following success quotes will help expand your idea of success.”  —Anonymous

Pam Watson Korbel is an Interim Executive and Corporate Director specializing in fast-growth companies.  She can be reached through her company SmartGrowth, Inc. at 303-906-4144 and pam@smartgrowth.com.

Share this article:

Other Articles