What is your BHAG? BHAG is Jim Collins’ acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Big goals are great to have, yet can feel overwhelming when you look at them in their entirety. How do you start and then maintain progress?

Here are three considerations to help you get started and maintain progress. The concepts are; Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Fail Fast, and Agile Program Management.

Before we start, put your BHAG at the forefront of your mind and assess how these might apply.

A Minimum Viable Product   is a concept from Lean Startup focusing on creating a version of your product that will allow you to learn the most with the least effort. Here is an example.

I facilitate a class for Veterans who want to start a business. One student had the goal of starting a nonprofit to house homeless female veterans with children. Her vision was a 15-unit apartment building, housing the veterans and children, and assisting them with navigating the VA for services. Pretty big goal.

What would be an MVP? She narrowed her concept to be; having her nonprofit structure established and a room in her house approved to house one veteran with a child in her house funded by VA benefits. A very scaled-down version to prove her concept that she could learn from.

What’s a minimum viable product for you?

If you are considering a career transition, what would be an MVP for your transition?

It might be a completed resume, LinkedIn profile, and starting to network and hold informational meetings. The least amount of effort to produce a product to learn from.

“Fail Fast” is another Lean Startup term focused on quick incremental development and iteration. Find out what does not work, adjust, and iterate on the change. I think of this consideration as finding boundaries or the “No’s”. “No, I am not doing that.”

Chris Voss the author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your Life Depended on It, talks about the power of a “No”. That is when the negotiation starts because you have found a limit or boundary. A “No” closes a door and helps define that path forward.

In business a “No” may be the limit on available funding, working with a supplier, or partnerships. In a career transition, it may be the requirements for a position. To work in this field requires specific credentials. No credential creates a boundary and limit.

Agile Program Management, which originated in 2001, is a tool developed to deal with projects in a complex and fast-moving environment. It is built on the concepts of effective processes, iteratively delivering working products, collaboration, and the ability to adjust to changes.

To me, this means; Incremental delivery, regular rigorous check-ins, and adjustments to changes in the environment. This means listening to what the results/data are telling you and being willing to change. Ever work with someone committed to their original plan no matter what the interim results are telling them? Hard to watch.

How would you implement this with your BHAG? How often will you measure your progress; weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly?

Think about this example. If your goal is a 20% revenue increase year-over-year, how would these three considerations be applied?

MVP – What is the vehicle that will generate the increased revenue; A new product, service, or process? What is the minimum required to test your concept with the least effort?

Fail Fast – What worked and did not work to generate the desired results, where are the boundaries? Knowing what you are unable to do, is important data.

Agile Program Management – Put your learning to use.  Evaluate the data, make adjustments, and iterate.

Time to get started on your BHAG. Make your first step defining the increments in your process;

  1. define your MVP,
  2. consider the boundaries to test
  3. set the frequency to evaluate, adjust, and iterate.

Now go pursue your BHAG. Publish your first podcast, write that first blog, take a short internship, start exploring a new career, or start that business.