My pilgrimage started from both a desire as a frustration. For my 35th birthday I asked my friends and family gifts which were related to walking a pilgrim’s path. For example, a donation of 10 euro, that represented walking socks. (Yes, they were that cheap 15 years ago) Or 150 euro for a backpack. I think I asked this gift from my parents.

Now you must know that I didn’t do any pilgrimage with just that. I bought socks and good shoes. I got myself a Camelbak, which is a plastic sack you can put in your backpack. It has a long plastic tube so you can easily sip some water when you are on your way. I used these walking items on daily hikes in the Netherlands, and on holidays in Portugal and Italy.

I usually walk 10,000 steps a day. Because it keeps me fit and I like having small goals. But I never had anything like a true BHAG: a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. In the book “Built to last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, Jim Collins and Jerry Portas introduce this acronym. Or I would rather say, new concept. It is a clear and compelling target (for an organization) to strive for. 

A little bit of theory behind the BHAG. It is meant to pull people out of a slump and energize them to implement a big picture-type plan that could take a longer time to complete. Often a BHAG is a three- or five-year goal, falling into four categories: role model, common enemy, internal transformation, and a target.

That target element and internal transformation are what my personal BHAG was about. Going on an adventure, walking 1,000 kilometers, in one year, finishing it in Rome on my 50th birthday.

In customer experience, I truly miss BHAG’s. Going from 7.1 to 7.5 on CSAT doesn’t excite me (nor your employees most likely) one bit. It is even boring. But going for an international CX award as the best CX team of the year? That will get people going. Being the best. Being as good as… Amazon, Coolblue, etc. Choosing a transformation to go from your customers complaining, to your customers being your greatest fans. Having the best place to work. Those kind of BHAG’s work transformational.

The litmus test of a true BHAG is how it answers questions like:

If the answers to these questions trend toward the affirmative, you may have a potential BHAG. Dare to aim for the moon. Set your CX BHAG and get the juices flowing. My pilgrimage BHAG scared the shit out of me, but also stimulated forward progress. It felt adventurous and I sure as hell put all my human energy into it. Let’s make this happen in CX too!

This blog is chapter 4 of my newest book ‘CX is a pilgrimage’. Want to read more?