THE Hedgehog concept(Simplicity within the 3 circles)
By: Sean, Sarah, Sara, Daisy, and Cher
Are you a hedgehog or a fox?
“The Hedgehog andThe Fox” by Isaiah BerlinThe world is divided into two categories:FoxPursue many ends at the same time and see the world in all its complexity.Scattered or diffused, moving on many levels; inconsistentNever integrating their thinking into one overall concept or unifying vision.HedgehogSimplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything.All challenges and dilemmas are reduced to simple ideas.Anything that does not relate to them holds no relevance.
Those who built the good-to-great companies were, to one degree or another, hedgehogs.They used their hedgehog nature to drive toward what we came to call a Hedgehog Concept for their companies.Those who led the comparison companies tended to be foxes, never gaining the advantage of the concept.Ex. Walgreens
The Three Circles
A Hedgehog Conceptis a simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of the following three circles.What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at).What drives your economic engine.What you are deeply passionate about.
Understanding What You Can (And Cannot) Be The Best At
“They stick with what they understand and let their abilities, not their egos, determine what they attempt.” Warren BuffetA hedgehog concept is not a goal, intention, strategy, or plan to be the best. It is anunderstandingif what youcanbe the best at.Ex. Wells Fargo, Abbott Laboratories
Insight Into Your Economic Engine
To get insight into the drivers of your economic engine, search for the one denominator that has the single greatest impact.You don’t need to be in a great industry to become a great company. Each good-to-great company built a fabulous economic engine, regardless of the industry.Denominators: profit perx, or in the social sector, cash flow perxEx. Fannie Mae and Nucor
Understanding Your Passion
You can’t manufacture passion or “motivate” people to feel passionate.You can onlydiscoverwhat ignites your passion and the passions of those around you. You need to feel passionate about what you are doing and it needs to be deep and genuine. You don’t have to be passion about the mechanics of the business per se.The passion circle can be equally focused onwhat the company stands for.Ex. Phillip Morris and Gillette
Understanding Over Bravado
Good-to-great companies set their goals and strategies based on understanding.Comparison companies set their goals and strategies based on bravado. Over 2/3 of them had an obsession with growth without the benefit of a Hedgehog Concept.Growth is not a Hedgehog Concept. If you have the right HedgehogConcept and make decisions relentlessly consistent with it, you will create tremendous growth in your company.Ex. Groping through the fog and Fannie Mae
Getting A Hedgehog Concept
It takes about four years on average for the good-to-great companies to clarify their Hedgehog Concepts.It is aninherently iterative process, not an event, to get a Hedgehog Concept.The aspect of the process is to get the right people engaged in vigorous dialogue and debate, infused with the brutal facts and guided by questions formed by the three circles.
A device that is a very useful mechanism for moving the process along.The Council consists of a group of the right people who participate in dialogue and debate guided by the three circles, iteratively and over time, about vital issues and decisions facing the organization.Build the Council and use that as a model. Ask the right questions, engage in vigorous debate, make decisions, autopsy the results, and learn—all guided within the context of the three circles. Just keep going through that cycle of understanding.
Characteristics of the Council
The council exists as a device to gain understanding about important issues facing the organization.It is assembled and used by the leading executive and usually consists of 5-12 people.Each member has the ability to argue and debate in search of understanding, not from the egoistic need to win a point or protect a parochial interest.Each member retains the respect of every other member, without exception.Members come from a range of perspectives, but each has deep knowledge about some aspect of the organization and/or the environment in which it operates.The council is a standing body, not an ad hoc committee assembled for a specific project.
Characteristics of the Council
The Council includes key members of the management team but is not limited to members of the management team, nor is every executive automatically a member.They meet periodically, as much as once a week or as infrequently as one per quarter.They do not seek consensus, recognizing that consensus decisions are often at odds with intelligent decisions. The responsibility for the final decision remains with the leading executive.They are an informal body, not listed on any formal organization chart or in any formal document.Can have a range of possible names, usually quite innocuous. In the good-to-great companies, they had benign names like Long-range Profit Improvement Committee, Corporate Products Committee, Strategic Thinking Group, and Executive Council.