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2 min read

Your Hedgehog Concept - Are You All Aligned to It?

MBA Capstone Mini-Series 3 of 8: Strat of Strategy


Week 1: Definition of Accountability; Output of a Leader

Week 2: Three Strategies for Activating Your Company Values


In this week’s Strategic Business Growth MBA Capstone, I’ve been reflecting on the 7 Strat of Strategy, with a particular focus on the influential insights from Jim Collins' book "Good to Great". The concept that really struck me is the "Hedgehog Concept". Collins, drawing from the ancient Greek parable of the hedgehog and the fox, puts forward that greatness comes from understanding the intersection of three critical areas: what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine. It’s when these elements align that a company can truly excel, focusing its efforts on what matters most.

At its essence, the Hedgehog Concept is about simplicity and focus. It’s about identifying that one thing a company can excel at, rather than spreading resources thin across multiple pursuits. This clear purpose enables companies to concentrate on their strengths, making them more effective and resilient over time.

Yet, I've noticed that many people and organizations fall short on their application of the Hedgehog Concept in several key ways. One of the most common and detrimental mistakes, in my view, is failing to align the entire organization with the Hedgehog Concept.

Failing to Align the Entire Organization

The Hedgehog Concept must permeate the entire organization. It’s not just a strategy for the top executives but a guiding principle that should influence decisions and actions at every level. Here’s why I think alignment is crucial and how misalignment can derail even the best-intentioned strategies:

  1. Unified Vision and Purpose:

   - For the Hedgehog Concept to be effective, every team member needs to understand and buy into the company's core focus. This unified vision ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals, reducing fragmentation and inefficiency.

  1. Consistent Decision-Making:

   - When the Hedgehog Concept guides all levels of decision-making, it ensures consistency in choices, from daily operations to strategic initiatives. This consistency strengthens the company’s overall strategy and makes it more coherent and effective.

  1. Empowerment and Accountability:

   - Alignment empowers employees at all levels to make decisions that support the company's Hedgehog Concept. When everyone understands the core focus, they can take initiative and make informed decisions that drive the company forward. This also fosters a culture of accountability, as each person knows how their actions contribute to the broader mission.

Reflecting on these points, it becomes clear to me that failing to align the entire organization with the Hedgehog Concept can lead to disjointed efforts and missed opportunities. It’s essential that this concept becomes a part of the company’s culture, guiding everyday actions and long-term strategies alike. While I'd like to delve into remedies and solutions, addressing the shortcomings of the Hedgehog Concept requires a thorough and specific analysis beyond the scope of this blog. For now, I recommend utilizing one of the many Root Cause Analysis tools we often use in Continuous Improvement to tackle the issue of failed alignment.

I'll leave you with this question to start your journey: Is your organization or department truly unified in its pursuit of greatness, and how do you ensure every member is aligned with your Hedgehog Concept?