Hedgehog Concept Guide

The Hedgehog concept is a classic Venn Diagram incorporating three circles with common elements represented by the areas of overlap among the circles with the hedgehog being the center Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, stated “The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, “No thank you” to opportunities that fail the Hedgehog test.” Learn more below, in the Hedgehog Concept Guide.

This concept has two simple parts.

  • First, answer each question for you or your organization in each circle. You may need to update your answers over time if priorities change.

1) What are you deeply passionate about?
2) What you can be the best in the world at?
3) What best drives your economic or resource engine?

  • Second, use your completed document to evaluate every opportunity that comes up moving forward. You can do this by testing to see which circle’s the opportunity in front of you can fit into. If it fits into all three then it fits your vision and will help you achieve long-term results.

Wanting to Be Successful? Simplicity is Key.

Is the power of one greater than the power of many? When it comes to having a vision it absolutely is. In 1953, philosopher Isaiah Berlin came up with the Hedgehog Concept. Picture this, say you have a sneaky fox who has multiple ways of trying to sneak up on the hedgehog, but after multiple failed attempts the fox gives up. How did the hedgehog never get attacked? It’s because he was good at one thing: rolling up in a ball being covered in sharp spikes creating the best defense against the fox. Just like the hedgehog, if you want to be successful, simplify, and focus on one big vision.

What are You Deeply Passionate About?

Passion is the driving force behind why people do what they do. Sometimes people will put too many things on their plate causing them to be overwhelmed. Here’s where your passion comes in. Find something that makes you want to get up in the morning, which makes you want to put in extra hours, or something that motivates you to work hard. Once you find that thing, then you will want to work toward it instead of stressing over multiple projects at hand. Pursue your passion and you just might see results you’ve always wanted.

What Can You be the Best in the World at?

Now we’re not saying that you need to go and win an Olympic medal in swimming and become the next Michael Phelps. You just need to find something that you would consider a strength. Something you have the potential to be good at. Along with this, you need to recognize things that you could never be the best in the world. Maybe you’re really good at mathematics and want to pursue a math education degree. Or maybe you know that math isn’t your thing but you are a great artist. Recognizing what you do good vs. great is a huge part of your potential success.

What Best Drives Your Economic Engine?

In order to be successful at what you want to do, you need to find something that will make you money. That’s just a fact of life. You need to find your profit per “X”, with X being the measure that is specific to you. Say you sell cars, you would measure your success as profit per car sold. Learn to recognize what will have the single and greatest impact on your long-term success and move forward with that.

When you have the right vision, success can be simple. By overlapping all three concepts, you reach a central idea that should be the one strategy that is central to your vision. Once you find a key focus, you can pursue that goal with your passion and succeed.

Hedgehog Concept Guide

By: Ben Hooker

Learn about the Porter’s Five Forces here to help build your strategy.