Graphic Design Portfolio

Isn’t a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) with a numerically measurable goal better than a short, simple slogan?

I first posted about BHAGs and BHIs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals and Big, Hairy Ideas) regarding the Superman brand. Let me get a little more specific with the BHAGs portion by saying that I think it is a great idea to use a percentage to quantify BHAGs – i.e. Increase XX by YY%. It can really help make a goal visible, targetable, and reachable, and it gives everyone involved with the brand something to shoot for. One of my classmates posted a great article with great references for different types of BHAGs: Target, Common Foe, Role Model, and Internal Transformation. Numbers can held add depth and meaning to any of these kinds of BHAGs.

On the other hand, as I was also researching BHAGs, I also noticed that not every BHAG I’d seen was measurable – like Microsoft’s, “A computer on every desk and in every home” (Microsoft, 2002), or Twitter’s “To become the ‘Pulse of the Planet.'” (Schonfeld, 2009). It is definitely interesting to see the different ways BHAGs can be used. Often the shortest and simplest are the most focused and easiest to keep in mind.

Intangible = Achievable?

I do think, though, that sometimes BHAGs like this, are truly unmeasurable are much more difficult to understand, pursue, and accomplish. If a BHAG is intangible, how do you know when you’ve reached it? I also was under the impression from our discussion guide that this BHAG should be something that was quantifiable, or measurable in some way and (as we all seem to have done here) rely on percentages or numbers of some kind. I like to see the way that you’ve changed your BHAG to match and be more measurable, and therefore more achievable.

But, understand the initial numbers before choosing new BHAG numbers

However, this brings up another interesting point. How can we really choose percentages or any numbers for our BHAGs without first understanding the initial numbers? Depending on the first set of numbers, an increase by 25% could either be a very dramatic, million dollar number, or it could just be a matter of a few hundred. This makes choosing a quantifiable percentage for our BHAGs much more of a challenge. I mean, how many of us will go out and research the superhero video game market to determine what percentage of the market share Superman already owns, and what percentage we’d like to increase that market share by? Additionally, there may be some markets in which the Superman brand has absolutely no presence whatsoever. In that case, an ambitious BHAG to increase market share by 50% would technically yield a constant 0% market share after even a few years (due to the fact that anything multiplied by 0 remains 0).

Therefore, I can really respected another classmate’s brief research for a number about Avatar’s 3-D release:

With the first Samsung 3-D Television out, and Imax movies at an all time high, March 2010 – Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience completed its initial run as the all-time highest grossing IMAX release; the worldwide IMAX box office total for the film climbed to more than $220 million since the movie’s launch in December.(imax.com) bringing the superman brand in to the Imax experience and the gaming Industry Superman can be as strong in the brand as he is as a superhero.

Although it would have been nicer to see some Superman statistics here to determine by what percentage he’d like to increase Superman’s sales, the fact that he found some actual numbers about Avatar by which to base his BHAG comparatively (in this case a “Role Model” BHAG as the above article mentions), made it nice, and a lot easier to understand and measure in the long run. By setting it up against Avatar, the new Superman movie, targeted here to be released on iMAX, will have something to shoot for.

Give me a decent quantifier

Still, it would have been nice for him to spell it out like that directly. Something like: “To BEAT Avatar’s 3-D iMAX gross.” Of course, that goal is highly ambitious, but as they say, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.” To shoot that high will either bring great success, or crashing defeat. Either way, there’s a decent quantifier to measure it by, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a percentage.

What about you?

Do you think a measurable BHAG is better? One with some numbers or percentages to quantify it? Or do you think a short and simple BHAG/catch-phrase/slogan is better? Like Twitter’s ambition to be the “Pulse of the Planet”?


Microsoft. (2002, Oct. 25). Microsoft’s Tradition of Innovation. Retrieved July 17, 2010 from http://www.microsoft.com/About/CompanyInformation/ourbusinesses/profile.mspx

Schonfeld, Erick. (2009, Jul. 16). Twitter’s Internal Strategy Laid Bare: To Be “The Pulse Of The Planet.” On TechCrunch.com. Retrieved July 17, 2010 from http://techcrunch.com/2009/07/16/twitters-internal-strategy-laid-bare-to-be-the-pulse-of-the-planet/

Leave a Reply