Pete's Coming Soon SignJim Collins, the acclaimed author or co-author of groundbreaking business books like “Good to Great” and “Built to Last,” calls them BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

As defined by Wikipedia, a BHAG “is a strategic business statement similar to a vision statement which is created to focus an organization on a single medium-long term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible.”

BHAGs, according to Collins, are decades in the works—10 to 30 years is a range noted on his website.

The memorable, somewhat whimsical term came to mind earlier this week as I drove past the site of a future Pete’s Fresh Market just down the street from my home in Oak Park, Ill.

A few nights earlier, I had checked the status of the grocery store, which a few months ago pledged to open in early September. Driving onto the rough, uneven parking lot and peering inside the partially illuminated space inside, the timeline struck me as overly optimistic.

But now my view has altered by 180 degrees. What changed?

It’s not so much that a new, fresh coat was laid onto the parking lot, although that certainly represents progress. Instead, it’s a declaration on a sign that was fastened to a fence bordering the property and facing onto the street:

 “Coming Soon! Opening September 2.”

After initial hopes that it would actually open by the end of 2014—followed by a $1.5 million incentive package from the Village of Oak Park—that Sept. 2 opening date has previously been published in media reports, such as this one.  It’s also a make-or-break deadline, because the village could pull the incentive entirely if it’s not met, according to media accounts.

Pete's OP

But it’s one thing to show up in print or on the Internet, and quite another to have it appear in unmistakable letters and numerals emblazoned on a sign.

For the thousands of daily passers-by, that sign is essentially Pete’s turning up the heat on itself—putting its reputation on the line with a specific date that people can circle on the calendar. It’s not some “Coming This Summer” or “Opening in 2015” vagueness.

So, because there are not nearly enough acronyms in the world—sarcasm fully intended—let’s give Pete’s proclamation a name: BDAP, short for Bold Deadline Aired Publicly.

From a marketing and public relations standpoint, the sign will retain its boldness only as long as the store actually accomplishes that goal. If it doesn’t, then we’ll need to summon an alternative acronym like FDAP, with the “F” short for Foolish.

For the sake of residents who have gone nearly two years without a store in that location—and for Pete’s sake, too—here’s hoping it remains a BDAP.

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