What’s Your BHAG? You Need To Know!

Yes – it’s that time of year again- the time when you get stuck with a really stupid white elephant gift from the annual gift exchange, drink too much at the office party and reveal a really embarrassing moment  from your past, get all nostalgic for something that wasn’t all that great anyway – and maybe, just maybe, begin thinking about next year.

When things in the office slow down a bit due to the holidays and you have a few more days off than usual, it is a good time to think about the future, namely your BHAG. So just what is a BHAG?

A BHAG is a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” – a long term picture of where you see things going – not a one year plan, but a futuristic vision of what you would like to accomplish many years from now. When you do your short term planning you need to keep your BHAG in mind.

What are some examples of BHAGs? Here’s one.

“By the end of the decade we will send a man to the moon and have him return safely home again.”

Most people know this was one of the BHAGs of President John F. Kennedy. He didn’t say that first we would develop the Mercury space capsule and have someone orbit the Earth for a few minutes. But that was certainly one step of many that had to be taken.

Or how about this one from the business world?

“A computer on every desk in every home.”

When Bill Gates said that in 1982, most people, including the big shots at IBM, thought it was ridiculous. What use could the everyday consumer possibly have for a computer in their home? They certainly never pictured that right now this blog would be written on a laptop at 30,000 feet. But Bill Gates did. (Of course, he probably did not think it would be a MacBook!)

So while those are great examples of Big Hairy Audacious Goals, how well do they translate to the dental office? Actually, very well.

Bill Gates had so much work in front of him and his colleagues to get a computer in every home. Things like writing code for an operating system that normal people could use, making processor chips small and powerful enough to fit into a compact enclosure, and tons of other things we now take for granted had to be created for that BHAG to be achieved. But without it, they may never have happened.

So let’s take it to the dental office (or chiropractic, podiatric, medical office or any type of business if you happen to be one of our growing numbers of non-dental followers). Pretty soon you will be sitting down to set your goals for 2010 – or you certainly should be anyway. And in it you will have all of the normal stuff, things like:

  • Increase production and collections by 22% over last year.
  • Obtain 45 new patients each month.
  • Begin the interview process and hire a second hygienist by March 2010.
  • Complete a course and have a Social Media Marketing program up and running in the first quarter.
  • Ask every single patient if they would like whiter teeth.

Okay – you probably get the picture there. And that is all great stuff. But without the BHAG, you really don’t know where you are going with this. So take off your loupes for a second and put on your binoculars. What do you want to be doing ten years from now?

Maybe you want to sell your practice and work for the new owner, netting enough money on the sale that you can comfortably retire. Or perhaps you want to develop your practice from a one-person show into a multi-specialty group practice. Maybe you want to buy your own building and lease out space to other medical professionals.

Or how about this one – maybe you want to grow your practice by converting associates into partners so that you may be involved clinically just one or two days per week, take off the months of April and September to stay at your resort condo in Hawaii, and keep your income high and your retirement plan funded. Sounds pretty good! That goal is really big, kind of audacious, and pretty hairy too. And the only way to make that happen is to start now!

Team members – does this involve you? Absolutely!! Remember, the more the practice changes and grows, the more you will be rewarded (or should be rewarded anyway). So feel free to pitch in with the BHAG. And you can also have a personal BHAG, so please take some time to contemplate that.

Here is the point. Many offices will be doing their 2010 planning around this time of year, and that is fantastic. But to REALLY know how to plan, you need to know where you are going long term, and for that you need a BHAG.

So go ahead and make one! Make it super big, pretty darn audacious, and really hairy. Don’t worry – you can always modify and change it, so dream large! And then, when you begin your 2010 planning, keep the BHAG in mind.

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