What is the Hedgehog Concept?
I see the Hedgehog Concept as one of the core principles behind my starting HitMoxie. I wanted to help others find a path to making their vocational dreams a reality and in turn, this can stimulate the job market, the economy, and increase your quality of life.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins outlines how you can discover that dream vocation. He does it by helping you identify what is at the intersection of your skills, passions, and motivation. Once you’ve identified those three points, their unique combination can help you identify the one thing that you are “best in the world” at. After all, once you’re best in the world at something, you tend to find that many opportunities tend to come your way.
This exercise is called “The Hedgehog Concept” and it is inspired by the story of The Fox and The Hedgehog by Isaiah Berlin. The story tells of a hedgehog that repeatedly foils the fox’s efforts to eat it. The hedgehog does this by performing a single, solitary tactic. And it was this one “best in the world” trait that was enough to guarantee its safety from the fox.
Best in World… Trait?
Well, what was the trait? The hedgehog would curl up in a ball to protect his vulnerabilities with his spines. It is from that notion that Collins developed his Hedgehog Concept. The Hedgehog Concept is a methodology to help you truly understand the core of what your business does best. And the beauty of the Hedgehog Concept is that it is a simple exercise for anyone, and any business.
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So here is a visual representation of the beginning of your hedgehog concept. Notice that the circles intersect at certain areas. With any section, you may feel like you only have one or two to list. That’s okay for two reasons. One – fewer items on the list make it easier to pin down your hedgehog in the long run. And two – you’re likely to realize other things as you work out your hedgehog concept.
First, is your Passions. Consider your passions to be what you find joy in, that are fulfilling, and adds value to your life. This could be a special cause or an issue that you are enthusiastic about.
Second, “skills” is your second section to fill. Your list of skills needs to include the things that you have some form of competency, education, and proficiency in. Sometimes the line between passions and skills can be blurry. And so at its most basic, your Skills are the things that you are REALLY good at.
And section three is your Economic Drive. I view this as the REASON you do your work and is what motivates you. It’s the thing that is motivating you to improve your life. That could be your family, a respectable life goal, or becoming famous. Or it could be something that is thrilling or has that “big deal” potential that gets you out of bed. For instance, a musician’s Economic Drive might be the chance to perform in front of thousands of people.
What If You Don’t Have All Three?
However, one other thing to understand is what happens when only TWO of the elements meet. Without all three, there is no Hedgehog Concept and some issues start cropping up.
• Passion and Drive, without any Skills, is just a Dream. A hollow dream of wishful thinking and zero direction.
• Skill and Passion without Drive is a simple Hobby that might be fun doesn’t greatly contribute to your life.
• Skill and Drive that is lacking in Passion will lead to mediocrity and a mundane Job devoid of sufficient thrills to breathe life into it. Sure, maybe you could be considered a success; after all, you don’t necessarily have to be pursuing your passion to make good money. But the problem is that if you don’t find an outlet for your passion in your work, you’ll become miserable.
Isn’t it interesting how you can combine any two of the three elements together to create a different yet incomplete portion of the Hedgehog Concept? But only when all three converge do we find the perfect vehicle for us to be the best in the world at something. It might take a couple of times, but like the case studies provided by Collins in his book, I have found it very helpful to look at my interests this way.