Teacher helping young students with a science experiment so they can meet an audacious goal.

How can leaders use Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGs) as a strategic tool to achieve successful outcomes? Join Dr. Janet Pilcher for the latest episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast where she defines what a BHAG is and urges organizations to set such long-term goals guided by core values and purpose to succeed in a world shaped by the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen as Janet discusses how these goals contribute to an organization’s overall vision, igniting and building collective greatness.

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Episode Transcript

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Janet Pilcher: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today’s Accelerate Your Performance podcast. I’m your host, Janet Pilcher. Thank you for tuning into our show today.

This podcast is all about leadership, and I don’t mean leadership as a position. It’s about how we can all see great leadership in action so that we can all be leaders in our organizations and the focus of leadership is connected to the Nine Principles Framework highlighted in my new book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education.

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Bill Gates said that most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years. And over the past semester, I’ve had several conversations on what we mean by transforming our organizations. I’ve had these conversations with leaders I work with in the field.

And as we are now well on our way in the post COVID time, we recognize that things will not be the same. Transformation is occurring before our eyes until we see it. Or is it something we continue to question or even resist? And here’s what we face each day: We can’t do business in the way we’ve been doing business. And if we are doing business in the same way, we’re probably behind. And as time goes on, the more behind we get.

So, here’s what has resurfaced for me when I’ve heard and talked about this concept of transforming our organizations. It’s what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras termed years ago in their book, Build to Last. A BHAG, A Big Hairy Audacious Goal, it’s a long term, 10-to-25-year goal, guided by an organizations core values and purpose.

And it’s a goal that stretches and challenges us beyond what we can imagine feeling we might ever achieve. It’s not just a statement. It’s the guide that connects to an underlying strategy for how we pave our way to our future.

A BHAG is a goal that everyone on the team gets on board with, and if there are people who aren’t on board, we have to recruit and hire people who are committed to the BHAG. A BHAG makes us an amazing visionary organization. And yes, the BHAG may be so big that we might not achieve it, but that’s not the point. Because the BHAG makes our organization better. It ignites our energy to progress toward the goal, toward the BHAG to build greatness.

So, what do we know about a BHAG? A BHAG is measurable. It feels as if it’s 70% achievable. Yes, that’s intentional. That’s how we intentionally set the goal to think about something that we want to achieve. But in our minds, it thinks so this is probably 70% achievable. It’s clear and compelling and a BHAG expands the organization’s capabilities and connects to the organizational strategy. We live it. We breathe it, and we build our team focus around it.

You know, I think about FSU football coach, Coach Norvell and the story connected to Jordan Travis, the quarterback, and Jordan’s been a quarterback for FSU for several years and at the beginning of his tenure, he wasn’t doing so well. And was really frustrated, but when coach Norvell came into his world as a new coach, Jordan went to coach Norvell and said, hey, I just want to do what’s right by the team and if that means changing positions and moving out of the quarterback’s position to help the team, you know I’m willing to do that.

Coach Norvell stood up and he pointed to several of the Heisman Trophy winners on the wall in his office at Florida State University and he looked at Jordan Travis and he said one day your picture’s going to be hanging on that wall and that was a BHAG.

And Jordan Travis worked every day with that coach to achieve the BHAG. Now it’s toward the end of Jordan’s career when he unfortunately got hurt several weeks ago, but even so he may not achieve being the Heisman Trophy winner this year. But he sure got close, and he worked at it every day and made his team better to the point. At this point they’re achieving is one of the best teams in the country, and Jordan was that team leader.

We don’t just wish it- as we see in Jordan Travis and Coach Norvell. We work hard at it, toward that BHAG. We have a strategy, we build good plays, we practice, and we execute to our best ability every day.

The BHAG calls for leaders to put a solid strategy in place so that we have a way to achieve our BHAG. I think we are all in a place to transform our organizations. The Nine Principles Framework is the engine behind guiding strategies and solid execution toward that transformational goal, our BHAG.

As leaders how do we push ourselves to put our BHAGs in place to achieve beyond what we think is possible?

When we do that and consistently build our leaders to apply the Nine Principles tools and tactics, we push toward educational systems that are better than ever. Best in the world for every student. Not failing anyone on their learning journey.

As I begin my end of year reflections and enter the new year, I’m thinking more about how we transform our organizations. Engaging in a conversation about our BHAGs, that’s a first step to think audaciously about what we can become. To transform your organizations by determining your organizational BHAG as a leader, think about what drives you.

What’s your passion and how do you build energy as you live your drive and passion with your teams?

It’s that relentless drive to achieve that moves us to be the best in the world in educating our students. When we do, we live the educational core values that sit at the center of the Nine Principles Organizational Flywheel. Because we live with purpose, we do worthwhile work. And indeed, we make a difference.

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Thank you for tuning in to this episode of Accelerate Your Performance. If today’s topic was meaningful to you, please feel free to share this episode with a colleague or friend. I look forward to connecting with you next time as we continue to focus on the Nine Principles Framework so that we can be our best at work.

Have a great week, everyone.

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If you enjoy the podcast, explore Janet’s latest book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education. Each chapter focuses on the Nine Principles® Framework offering tools and tactics to enhance leadership skills and elevate organizational performance.

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