The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
— Archilochus, 700 BC
In the global economy of today, competition can be tough. The success of a company is often rooted in how effectively department heads take the lead. Effectiveness can be tied to whether one is more like a fox or more like a hedgehog. This approach, known as the Hedgehog Concept, can be used to help managers (foxes) complete a transformation that leads them to become better leaders (hedgehogs).
What Is the Hedgehog Concept?
Jim Collins, best-selling author of “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t,” uncovered common characteristics found in businesses that made a transition from simply being good to being a great company. As a result, his research team came up with the Hedgehog Concept, which was inspired by a line from Greek poetry about a fox and a hedgehog.
Metaphorically, the quick, cunning fox represents a good company that tries too many things at once, lacks focus and acts scatterbrained. A fox limits its own progress in the long run. In contrast, a hedgehog is a great company that is slow, calculated and focused on an overarching vision. A company that behaves like a hedgehog is able to excel and overcome challenges. Good-to-great companies learned strategies to transform from a fox to a hedgehog.
Three Dimensions of a Hedgehog Concept
Organizations succeed when they take advantage of a business strategy that properly aligns with three key areas: passion, talent and economic drive.
Passion is a unique focus of those companies that become great. It is not something to be created in someone, but something that is revealed. Leaders who take the time to uncover what they are most passionate about find themselves one step closer to discovering their hedgehog concept.
The best companies were those that hired talent rather than trying to change underachievers. When individuals consider their own talent, it’s important to discern what they can do best from what they cannot do best. When leaders are able to apply their talent, they become more engaged.
Finding out what common denominator effectively drives the economic engine of a company can be the difference between being good and being great. Sustainability is key when it comes to longevity. Individually, managers should tap into their own drive to support a company’s goals.
Creating Better Leaders
An intersect of passion, talent and drive means that a business has acquired a Hedgehog Concept. Achieving this state helps to guide company-wide efforts. The same approach can be applied to a team of individuals.
It’s important to openly communicate with all team members, ensuring that they are on-board and fully understand the concept. Not only does strategy alignment help each leader to be more focused, like a hedgehog, but it also positively impacts customers, vendors and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line.
At A Better Leader, we make it convenient and easy to transform your teams from foxes to hedgehogs. Our online leadership courses are designed to help you train your managers to become better leaders. We offer many courses that aim to show your team how to motivate, connect, support and improve employees. Take a look at some of the course previews, and decide for yourself.