by Chris Moore

Balloons, Burrs and Bhags

Jul 10, 20075 mins

Most of us are familiar with a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), but how many of you have encountered Balloons and Burrs in your business, career or day to day life? Now, if you are not familiar with BHAG’s, just google it, you will find thousands of references, look up the one associated with Jim Collins, the author and speaker if you are looking for corporate references. These are those big, huge goals that sometimes we set for ourselves, or sometimes others set for us, they are massive, beyond us and usually require some time strategizing in the trenches with the team to figure out a plan for a BHAG. How do you execute on a BHAG, same way you do for any large initiative, one piece, one project, one work plan, one tactic at a time……. What is a BURR, A Burr is something that just seems to stick there, no matter what you do to remove it, it keeps coming back, or really never leaving. A Burr is that project that just never seems to end, or that person on the team who never seems to figure out how to effectively work with everyone else. A Burr is something painful, kind of like having a rock in your shoe, you need to stop and take it out, you need to deal with it. Do Burr’s take time and energy, yes, they do. Do we sometimes spend energy dealing with a burr when we shouldn’t have to, FOR SURE, but maybe burrs come along to build character, to help us develop, to give us plans and strategies that we need to deal with the burr, more effectively next time something like it comes along. To me there are warranted and unwarranted burrs. There are times when you are in a situation and you know that there is no way around it, you have to deal with the burr, the rock, the issue. This then consumes a portion of you and your team for a time, but when you have dealt with it, the Burr has been removed. Then there are unwarranted burrs, whether we create them for ourselves, or others create them, they appear, when, in actual fact everything could of kept moving fine without them. These are the more frustrating situations, these are the burrs that, as you remove them you say,

“I really should not have to be dealing with this burr”. Whether warranted or unwarranted these disruptions come along and must be managed, ignoring the burrs is simply not an option. Do you ignore the burrs in your work or life, do you have many burrs under you that you “put up with” every day because you have chosen not to deal with them, or maybe you have many rocks in your shoe, painful to walk isn’t it. Or maybe you are someone who takes all the issues and pushes them under the carpet so far that you cannot see more issues coming your way because the carpet is so high and your view, your perspective, your foresight is blocked. I like to use the luggage analogy. For each of us, as situations occur in our work and personal life, if we decide to not deal with the situations, head on then we accept the baggage of that situation. Soon we are traveling around in life, work or personal life, so weighed down with baggage that we cannot move. My goal in life is simple, minimize the baggage, and when I leave this life I won’t even be taking any carry on luggage because all issues will have been managed or resolved! NOW ONTO BALLOONS, I am sure everyone who reads this post will have experienced Balloons. Have you ever asked someone to do something for you, or to take care of something for you, to complete a task, or to get something started? These requests are like balloons. Lets say I ask one of my team to execute on an initiative; it is like handing them a balloon. I know they have the balloon (task), I can see it in their hand, do I check in with them everyday to see how the balloon is, or if they still have the balloon, NO, this would only frustrate them and I. Do I expect that they complete the task, FOR SURE ! Do I expect them to report back to me on any issues they encounter, and progress they are making, YOU BET! So why am I sometimes surprised when I do not hear anything about a task, and I have to pursue them, follow up with them, ask them. To me, it is like sometimes people let go of the

balloon you give them and it just floats away like it never existed. So there we are as a team, all watching the balloon float away, all knowing it is floating away, but no one saying, HEY why is the balloon floating away. Why is it so hard to manage a handful of balloons, why do we not let our supervisor know when one has slipped away (on purpose of by accident). To me we all need to be very diligent about keeping track of the balloons in our hands and reporting back to our stakeholders on what we are doing, and what we are planning on doing with the balloons we have been given. Letting them simply slip away should not be an option. Balloons, Burrs and BHAGS, three things we need to consider as we do life and as we do career.