Monday, October 12, 2015

Who wins at growth strategy? Hedgehog or Fox?

There is a science to taking a business from good to great, and that research spawned a best seller titled, well, Good to Great. Author Jim Collins helped us understand the "why" of businesses that became household names and were consistently profitable over the long term.

I'm one of those thinkers with 100 ideas and solutions flying around inside my teeny tiny brain at all times. Some people are thinkers with 1 or 2 ideas and solutions occurring peacefully inside their brain as they need them. Before you decide which is best and who needs to go back to school, read on.

Enter The Hedgehog Concept. An ancient Greek parable states: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Philosopher Isaiah Berlin applied this parable to people in a 1953 essay, saying people are either foxes or hedgehogs.

Because of the fox's wide variety of interests and strategies, their thinking is scattered and unfocused; therefore, they are limited in what they're able to achieve in the long run.

The hedgehog, however, is a slow and steady thinker. Unlike the fox, they are able to simplify the world and focus on one overarching vision. This principle guides everything they do and helps them succeed against all odds.

Jim Collins applied this concept to organizations, pointing out that they can find their "Hedgehog Concept" by making three important assessments. 

1 - Understand what it is people are truly passionate about.
2 - Identify what it does better than anyone else.
3 - Determine what drives its economic engine.

Give this some thought. While you're driving from one place to another, think of hedgehogs and foxes, passion and profit. If you're a hedgehog you will find this a simple activity, quietly contemplating. Whereas if you're a fox you may think of so many things you will overheat. Take care, and we will take this discussion further in the next post!


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