Have you come across a BHAG lately? Coined by authors Jerry Porras and Jim Collins in Built to Last, a book that explores the qualities of visionary companies, BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals, goals that distinguish successful efforts from unsuccessful ones by being ambitious, maybe even outrageous, to motivate people beyond their comfort areas.

A BHAG can be a fun and innovative means to have your team members let loose their creative and motivating energies when thinking of future goals. Developing Big Hairy Audacious Goals can be instrumental for visionary exercises seeking to achieve goals that some might feel are difficult if not impossible to accomplish. These are typically not goals achieved by ordinary measures, and they require new approaches and thoughts, and different tools and collaboration between other interested parties. But though audacious, the goals are still attainable.

The lumber and building materials supply industry has BHAGs lurking around many companies' strategic plans. For some dealers, BHAGs could involve greater margins, increasing sales performance, quicker loading and delivery times, safer work environments, or the desire to be the market leader.

A recent example of a BHAG is Habitat for Humanity International's launch of the Operation Home Delivery program, in which Habitat aims to build thousands of homes over the next 10 years for the disadvantaged in the Gulf Coast region devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Operation Home Delivery will help Habitat affiliates that were hardest hit by the hurricanes and serve as a catalyst with other organizations, governments, corporations, foundations, etc. to bring people together to collectively develop a recovery plan that Habitat alone would be unable to do.

The American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are estimating that more than 200,000 families were displaced or experienced damage to their homes. Once the emergency relief effort is over, the long road to recovery begins for thousands of families who lost nearly everything.

An initial Habitat effort called “Home in a Box” consists of materials being pre-built and assembled in communities outside the impacted areas. Each house is tacked together to ensure a rock-solid fit, then the frame is disassembled and components and other necessary construction materials are placed in a container and shipped to an area along the Gulf Coast where volunteers and builders will rebuild the home. Home in a Box projects were showcased on the Today Show, where Habitat for Humanity and thousands of volunteers pre-built homes on Rockefeller Plaza. The National Mall in Washington, D.C., also saw multiple houses being built by volunteers from Congress and the local Habitat affiliate.

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) is getting involved, too, setting a BHAG of our own to take a leadership role in coordinating this industry's effort to assist Habitat in Operation Home Delivery. Already, dealers and their suppliers have come forward to volunteer their services. If you would like to be a part of this effort, please call NLBMDA's office at 800.634.8645 and we'll share with you ways your company can participate. This endeavor will require the expertise and support of many to make a difference.

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast is going to take years to accomplish. But by working together we can and will make a lasting difference in restoring hope and changing the lives for scores of families left homeless by the storm. It's a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, but certainly one that is attainable!

Shawn Conrad is president of NLBMDA. 800.634.8645 E-mail: shawn@dealer.org