“GREATNESS IS NOT A FUNCTION OF CIRCUMSTANCE. GREATNESS IS LARGELY A MATTER OF CONSCIOUS CHOICE, AND DISCIPLINE.” – JIM COLLINS
In today's competitive world and busy market, you need to be great and awesome to stand out and keep your business running. Not an easy mission, right? That is why defining an identity is the key to success. If you know exactly who you are; your passions, your abilities, and limitations, you will have all the ingredients for a prosperous business ride.
How can you get to this point? The hedgehog concept can be of great help.
The hedgehog concept, outlined by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great in 2001, is based on a Greek parable that states: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."
But what does this have to do with business success?
In the parable, the Fox uses a variety of strategies to try to catch the hedgehog. And every time, it walks away defeated, with a nose full of spines. The Fox never learns that the hedgehog knows how to do one thing perfectly: defend itself.
The same can be applied to business strategies.
In his book, Collins implies that if companies tried to be more like a hedgehog, instead of a fox, they would be more successful. The takeaway from the story is that to be the very best at one thing is far better than being good at a multitude of things.
Great companies are more like hedgehogs, they are more understanding and able to simplify the world and focus on one overarching vision. It's this principle that guides everything they do and helps them succeed against all the odds.
In business, the Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of three circles. More than a strategy it’s really a sweet spot.
To find the "Hedgehog Concept" for your organization, you need to answer these three questions:
What are you deeply passionate about?
Think about what makes you passionate at work. Does your job excite you when you wake up in the morning? Do the people in your organization feel inspired and driven? It´s important to understand and live the values and motivations of your business, and of course, to feel inspired every day.
Look at your organization's mission and vision statements. What are its core values, and how far do people subscribe to these values?
Great companies focus on those activities that ignited their passion. The idea is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate.
What can you be the best in the world at?
This is not meant to be a goal, or strategy, an intention or a plan. With this dimension, your aim is to understand what your company can do better than any other organization. Find that ability where you can shine brighter than anyone else.
Keep in mind that what you could be the best at may also be something you’re not doing right now.
It is also equally important to know and understand what you are NOT good at or the areas in which you lack skills. Be honest when considering these weaknesses, and remember that not being the best in certain areas is alright, understanding what your business can be great at is far more powerful.
What drives your economic engine?
To have a good economic engine, your organization must fully understand how to generate sustained cash flow and profitability. You need to find a single "economic denominator" or measure that can have the greatest and most sustainable impact on the organization's long-term success while at the same time pursuing your passion.
The most important thing is to find that sweet spot, the intersection of these three circles. You can not have two out of three, and you need them all to be truly successful and happy about your business. If you are passionate about your work and you are good at it, but you are not making enough money, you are going to get discouraged. If you are great at what you do and are making lots money, but you are not enjoying what you do, it´s not worth the effort. And lastly, if there's money to be made in an industry that you are passionate about, but you aren´t any good at it, can be frustrating too. So it's fundamental to stay in the middle of these three circles.
Here is Delo´s Hedgehog Concept: