The hedgehog theory- the enterprise world

The Hedgehog Theory

If you were given a choice to be a fox and a hedgehog, what would you choose?

Anyone in their right minds would immediately go for the fox. And why not? Foxes are sleek, beautiful and cunning! While on the other hand, hedgehogs are small animals that are prickly, slow and also at times plodding. Now you might wonder, why does it even matter in running a business?

The Hedgehog concept was developed in the book ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. And it has everything to do with the running of your organization! If you wish to achieve great levels of success, simplicity is the key. And that is exactly what we can learn from hedgehogs.

Let us have a look at how being a hedgehog pays off better than being the fox!

What exactly is the Hedgehog Concept?

Even though this theory is used by the famous American business consultant and author, Jim Collins, it is originally derived from a Greek parable that says, ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’

The fox tries to catch the hedgehog, he uses all his different tactics, he runs towards it, and he pounces on the hedgehog and what not. But even after using every little trick of his, the fox remains defeated. The hedgehog may not know as many things as the fox, but he knows one thing that he is best at; to defend himself.

Collins in his book applied this parable to the companies. The people who have started large companies and are successful portray similar behavior to that of the hedgehog. They focus on only one thing, and that is success. Unlike many other organizations, who focus on multiple things. In this case, they can be compared to the foxes. Looking over a number of things can reduce the chances of success as they can lose focus.

Moral being, despite being slow, if you are able to simplify the world around you and focus all your energies on the one thing that you are passionate about, you can achieve great heights.

It is important to understand the fact that, finding the right thing to do takes time, and for that you do have to try out different things. And once you find the right thing, you should channelize al your energies there. So even if the going gets tough, focusing on that one particular thing that you are good at can help you thrive and survive in the dire situations.

How Do You Apply the Hedgehog Concept in your Business?

Hedgehog Concept by Jim Collins- The Enterprise World
Image Courtsey: Toolshero.com

We can understand the Hedgehog concept by understanding these three circles. And the portion where the three circles overlap is the Hedgehog concept, the ‘mantra’ for success.

Circle 1-

Find what you are passionate about:

To start with, you have to the most basic thing, and find out what everyone in the organization is deeply passionate about. What is that thing that is truly important to your employees? What kind of work inspires them? What kind of work makes them enthusiastic?

Circle 2-

Find out what you are best at:

The next, you need to find out what your organization is the absolute best at. What is that one thing that your organization does better than the others? A distinguishing factor. You need to make sure that your emphasis and focus is on the strengths of your organization. And not just the competencies, but the competences that you have been wanting to achieve for a long time. Weaknesses are not bad, as an organization you are allowed to have a few low score in some areas.

Circle 3-

Find out what drives the economic engine:

As an organization, you need to be aware of the economic engine of your company. Because it is the thing that is used to generate the revenue and profit for the company.

And then once you have researched over the three circles, you need to determine where your organization overlaps; which is where you can find the Hedgehog concept. One thing that you need to note is that this Hedgehog concept is not a goal or a strategy, but an insight that can be a guiding principle for your further strategies!


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