Of late, we have been looking at strategic planning and now we want you to think about Hedgehogs – specifically your business Hedgehog and how it aligns with your BHAG.
Wait, what? Hedgehogs?
It's easy to think that HR Staff n’ Stuff is going off the rails with talk of cute woodland creatures supporting Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Blame Jim Collins as he took us down this path but it is definitely an outing worth taking...
The Hedgehog Concept
Jim takes the name of this concept from “The Hedgehog and the Fox”, an ancient Greek parable that states ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ In the parable, the fox uses many strategies to try to catch the hedgehog – sneaking, pouncing, racing, and playing dead. And yet, every time, the fox walks away defeated, its tender nose pricked by spines. The fox never learns that the hedgehog knows how to do one big thing perfectly: defend itself.
The Hedgehog Concept then is about understanding what you can be best at and being focussed on that rather than taking a scatter gun approach and trying to be all things to all people. Jim Collins argues that companies are far more likely to succeed if they can identify the one big thing they do best. Jim also states that when an organisation has identified its Hedgehog Concept, its leaders should devote all energy and resources to pursuing it and those that focus on what they are good at in tough times will survive and thrive.
To determine your Hedgehog Concept, you need to work through three questions:
For those of us who are visual learners, the following diagram shows that once you plot the answers out to these three crucial questions, the sweet spot is where they intersect. This is the work that inspires your people, that your business can do better than anyone else and that is your key economic indicator that helps guide your decisions for profitable growth.
Finding your Hedgehog
How do small business incorporate a BHAG that is supported by their Hedgehog Concept into their strategic planning? Let’s look at an example to help you get the feel of it. Let’s imagine a business that makes delicious, sweet pies. They currently have 20 locations that take their scrumptious pies but they’ve got vision and they have determined that their BHAG is that they want to be the number 1 supplier of dessert pies to cafes and restaurant across Australia. Lofty goals indeed but everyone starts somewhere and these are BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS goals; not scared, whimpering wishes.
In thinking about their Hedgehog, it might go something like this:
Passion – Creating and baking delicious pies that people from all walks of life love to eat.
Best in the World At – We are able to create a mouth-watering mix of spices that enhances the fruit and takes the taste of the pie to the next level.
Economic Engine – Profit. We have suppliers and production practices in place that maximise profit and have factored in scaling up as distribution network and orders increase.
All of this supports the BHAG as they work within a field that fuels their passion and they have discovered an aspect of pie making that makes them stand out from other pastry businesses all while being able to be profitable.
So what’s your Hedgehog Concept?
If you haven’t worked through this process before, don’t be alarmed if you can’t work it out quickly. This can be a process that makes you really take stock of what you are doing, how you go about it, why you do what you do and how will it all pay the bills that come with running a business.
Once determined, your Hedgehog Concept will then drive every decision your business makes. Where the circles overlap, you have your central vision that supports your organisation’s very strategy and helps you maintain focus and avoid distractions. It removes the stress that comes with trying to be all things to all people and achieving only mediocrity because you say yes to only the projects, clients, opportunities that drive the passion and ability of your business; that fit with your Hedgehog
BHAGs and Hedgehogs
For some, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal may be clear and you work through the Hedgehog Concept to determine whether or not your business can support the BHAG. For others, working through the Hedgehog Concept will provide the clarity you need to establish your BHAG. Either way, step into the process with an open mind and you may be surprised by what you learn and how having these strategic thinking and planning sessions can give you clarity and focus to drives you and your team to greater heights.
Let the HR Staff n’ Stuff team know if you are interested in learning more about Hedgehogs and BHAGs – you will be surprised as to what you can learn about your business and where it might take you!
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!