Women's Economic Development Council

Passion to Purpose: The HedgeHog concept

22 Apr 2014 10:19 AM | Sandra Edwards

I hope everyone got to read our Monthly Journal - It hit the mark on this month's topic! 



In Jim Collins book, Good to Great, the Hedgehog Concept can be summed up as: Doing one thing and doing it well.  The concept has a three pronged approach.1. Knowing what you do BEST, 2.Knowing what will allow you to make a living, and 3. Knowing what you are deeply passionate about.  In Chapter 5 Collins uses Isaiah Berlin’s parable of the fox and the hedgehog.  The fox tries many different attempts to eat the hedgehog.  The hedgehog does what he does every time the fox has a new plan.  He uses his ONE plan, he rolls into a ball.  It has worked on all the other strategies the fox has had – and continues to work.  The hedgehog does what he does best.  While Collins associates this concept to companies like Walgreens and Eckerd, we can take a step back and apply these three principles to ourselves personally. 

What if you do not KNOW what you are passionate about or what you do best.  What then?? The Hedgehog Concept is great when you know these things.  What if you have been the fox for so long, devising strategy after strategy, chasing your own tail, so to speak?  It is easy to get caught up in the pace of the world and think that the more we do the better we are.  If we are going to apply what Collins says then we might have to take a step back.  We might need some quiet time to reflect to find out what our three prongs are.  It may be that you engage a friend or life coach to help figure it out.  Who doesn’t want a simpler approach with more success/greatness? 

We have a very special opportunity coming up this year.  As many of you have seen, WEDC is hosting the first Leadership Conference here in Huntsville.  One of the speakers will be Ms. Jo Miller, CEO, Women’s Leadership Consulting, Inc.  Her topic:  Transitioning your Passion to Purpose.  How timely!! She has an article that pairs greatly with Collins’s Hedgehog Concept.  In
 Know Your Niche: 5 Leadership Quotes about Finding Your Career Sweet Spot she has compiled some quotes to help drill down to where you want to lead and how best to achieve that goal.  The theme that runs through that article is: Know what you are good at (vision, values and goals).  If we know them we do not sacrifice our self-esteem or integrity – we know what we need to sustain us and fulfill our goals.  As important as knowing what you are good at, however, it is equally as beneficial to know what you are NOT good at.  Know this before you take a job.  Know your passion – then how it fits in what you are doing or in your organization.  The final points she draws out are very intertwined: Know yourself/Be authentic and Develop your own style. 

Sometimes it is difficult to take a good hard look at yourself, to assess your strengths and weaknesses.  It may be hard to admit if we are not good at something, because most of us want to be good at everything.  But maybe, just maybe if we left behind those things that we are not good at to pursue the things that we ARE best at, we might just turn out to be…..GREAT.    

Collins, James C. "Chapter 5: The Hedgehog Concept." Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap--and Others Don't. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001. N. pag. Print

Smith, Stephanie. "Jim Collins' Hedgehog Concept." Http://www.success.com/. N.p., 7 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

Miller, Jo.  "Know Your Niche: 5 Leadership Quotes about Finding Your Career Sweet Spot." Weblog post.Http:womensleadershipcoaching.blogspot.com/. N.p., 11Mar 2014. Web. 7 Apr 2014.

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