Good to great using the hedgehog concept

Matching Johnny do-it-all

Many of us can recount envy of people for whom everything in life appeared to come all too easily, as epitomised by the charmed life of schoolboy character David Watts in the Kinks song of the same name.

On the other hand, I know of people who became supremely, extraordinarily good at doing just one thing – coding websites or whacking a cricket ball, by way of two examples – exploiting their respective niche talents to the extent that they became the best in the world at what they do.

I’ve no idea who first said it, but a traditional rhyming couplet springs to mind: ‘one thing at a time and that done well, is a very good thing as many can tell.’

It helps if your skill is marketable, while good timing can help – through the power of focus Johnny-on-the-spot can outperform Johnny do-it-all.

Outwitting life’s foxes

In nature the fox is known for being a cunning animal, capable of an impressive array of sneaky tricks.

But for all its wily tactics, the fox still can’t outwit a simple hedgehog that knows one trick very well: rolling itself into a ball and being very spiky.

The hedgehog concept was developed by the American business consultant & author Jim Collins, and through the use of 3 overlapping circles it guides you towards what your mission might be.

Through combining what you’re passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what people will pay you for, in this sweet spot you can achieve greatness, even if the wider industry or sector you operate in is not thriving.

3 things to understand

Here are 3 things to consider about the hedgehog concept:

(i) Your limitations – I loved shooting hoops when I was a young teenager, but I lived in northern England, wasn’t 6¾ feet tall, and to be blunt ‘NBA baller’ was not on the list of things in which I was ever going to achieve world domination.

Some things you will never be the best at, and understanding this is an important part of discovering what actually can be your field of excellence;

(ii) Your economic engine, or marketability – you may already know what lights a fire in your belly, but what discipline can you earn money from? And how is the best way to measure it? Where and how can you add value to people’s lives?; and

(iii) Where the overlap lies – the key to the hedgehog concept is identifying the overlap, where you have a burning passion, and a genuinely unique skill that you can turn into a marketable service or product.

If you can master this to satisfy the 3 criteria then you’ve got it cracked, for with clarity can come a certain calmness, allowing you to remain grounded, focused, and confident in your own achievements.

Collins’ hedgehog concept is not designed to be a goal or plan to be the best; instead it’s an understanding of what you can be the best at.

It’s a subtle but important difference!