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The Hedgehog Concept: Using the Power of Simplicity to Succeed (8802 hits)

The Hedgehog Concept

The hedgehog survives by focusing
on what it's good at.

If you could choose to be a fox or a hedgehog, which would you rather be?

Many people would choose to be a fox. After all, foxes are beautiful, sleek and cunning. Hedgehogs, which are small, prickly creatures found in Europe, Asia and Africa, are quite the opposite: slow, quiet and plodding.

So what do foxes and hedgehogs have to do with your organization's success? In short, everything.

In this article, we'll look at the Hedgehog Concept, and we'll discuss why it pays to be a hedgehog in business.

About the Model

The Hedgehog Concept is based on an ancient Greek parable that states: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

In the parable, the fox uses a variety of strategies to try to catch the hedgehog. It sneaks, pounces, races, and plays dead. And yet, 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.

Philosopher Isaiah Berlin took this parable and applied it to the modern world in his 1953 essay, "The Hedgehog and the Fox." Berlin divided people into two groups: foxes and hedgehogs.

In his essay, he argued that foxes are sleek and shrewd animals that pursue many goals and interests at the same time. Because of this wide variety of interests and strategies, their thinking is scattered and unfocused, and they are limited in what they can achieve in the long run.

Hedgehogs, however, are slow and steady, and people often overlook them because they're quiet and unassuming. But, unlike the fox, they are 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 odds.

Jim Collins developed this idea further in his classic 2001 book, "Good to Great." According to Collins, organizations are more likely to succeed if they focus on one thing, and do it well. By doing so, they can beat their competitors and become truly great businesses.

An organization can find its "Hedgehog Concept" by making three separate assessments. First, it can understand what its people are truly passionate about. Next, it can identify what it does better than anyone else. And last, it can determine where it's good at generating revenue.

The right way forward is where all three answers intersect, and it's this central position that is the "sweet spot" for the organization's strategy. We show this in figure 1, below.

Continued: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/hedgehog-concept.htm?utm_source=nl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=29Jul14#np
Posted By: Elynor Moss
Wednesday, July 30th 2014 at 1:29PM
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