As Facilitator and Navigator of innovation acceleration, we have listened to many beautiful dreams, as referred to above. Excellent visions and so-called Moonshots. This is very important since setting a higher goal inspires people in an organisation and the users of a service. According to Jim Collins, having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), or a concrete, clear point on the horizon, is even the determining factor that separates successful companies from their less successful counterparts. It turns out that plotting that point is a tried-and-tested method for subsequently taking small – or larger – steps and iterations to arrive at accelerated innovation on the way towards that point.
But what if that point is never reached? Won’t we be fooling ourselves? Like a donkey chasing a carrot hanging from a stick or the opportunist seeking the end of the rainbow?
The reason for asking this question gradually became clear during the many innovation sessions and Design Spirits that we have facilitated in the past year. Suddenly we hear CEOs saying: “It will be us in 2025!” What's the deal with 2020? Is it just too close to say? Does that suddenly make it all too concrete? A quick survey yielded surprising and sometimes disconcerting answers. In some cases, the 2020 goal had been passed years ago. In other cases, people simply haven’t really believed in it for years or, taken up with the issues of the day, they were not at all concerned with a strategic goal, but rather with frantically keeping an antiquated business model alive. “Change when you can, not when you need to”, as Jack Welsh has already said. We also often hear that people just can't really recall the 2020 goal any more.