The Hedgehog Concept

Good is in the Intent, Great is in the Details

Several years ago, a book came out that fired up the business world.  The book written by Jim Collins was titled “Good to Great.  It was a study that examined why some companies excel and other companies never seemed to rise above mediocrity. One of the conclusions that Jim reached was that great companies embrace the hedgehog concept.

The hedgehog concept was based on ancient Greek parable about a fox and a hedgehog. Each day the fox would try and attack the hedgehog and each day the hedgehog would do one thing; he would roll up in a ball and all of his sharp quills would protect him from the fox.  As smart as the fox was, and as much as he tried, the hedgehog would beat him every time. The hedgehog survived and thrived by doing one thing; curling up into a ball. Once it was safe, he would go on his merry way. He focused on that one thing, stuck to it and did it well.

One trait of the great companies that Collins studied was their ability to focus on and understand their core competency. As a result, its value to its customers and stakeholders was obvious. The lesson of the hedgehog can not only be applied to companies but also to us as individuals. We all have a core competency – something we can perform better than most people. Everyone has something that can be developed for exceptional success. It might not be magical or crowd drawing, but we can use it to increase our income and bring value to our work life.

In a world of mediocrity where people prefer to play it safe, it is easy to stand out. That hedgehog talent within us is not always obvious. I think Marcus Buckingham nails it when he explains that those talents make us unique are those things that make us feel strong. They feel natural to us and we feel good when we do them.

Finding our strength in life can be a huge factor when it comes to finding happiness and contentment. However, that begs the question, ͞If we repeatedly, day after day perform a task or a job we dread, the question must be asked, why?͟  Look inward and find what’s unique and powerful about you. Develop it, embrace it, connect it with an environment that values it and it will pay you well.