In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great he separates the status quo companies from the superstars. In a 5 year long research project that would undo even the most staunch statistician, his team picked apart companies to determine what made them succeed. His efforts produced some incredible findings of the differences between those that slam dunked the industry standard earnings, and those that just plugged along.
Learn to be a Hedgehog.
Okay…at first glance that may seem ridiculous. The hedgehog, fighting for survival every day, learned to avoid being eaten by predators. How? By rolling up into a little ball, and becoming a perfect sphere of sharp spikes. His main predator, the fox, interrupts his planned attack once he sees the hedgehog’s spikey thorns. The fox retreats back into the forest to think about how he will attack the hedgehog again the next day. This same process happens day after day, yet the hedgehog always wins. The fox, which is always seen as cunning and sly, may not be so after all.
The hedgehog understands simplicity.
In Collins’ book, he explains that the good-to-great companies used the Hedgehog Concept to remain consistent and simplistic, always beating their competition (the “comparison companies”). According to Collins, the fox remained scattered, diffused and inconsistent. In the end, while he stayed afloat, he was completely unremarkable.
Learn the hedghog’s secret.
Discover the three key dimensions of the Hedgehog Concept.
- Define what you can be the best in the world at. Certainly, not many possess the ability to be a world dominating swimmer like Michael Phelps. Search deeply to find out what you can do better than anyone else. In what ways are you uniquely wired to outperform others? What comes easy to you?
- What drives your economic engine? All of the good-to-great companies came up with a specific unique measurement equation that had the greatest impact on their success. For some it was profit per employee, others had profit per transaction or lo
cation. Changing the equation was the catalyst for some of the companies. When I worked for Radio Disney we had the “frenzy factor”. It was a unique equation that involved call volume per minute when a specific prize was offered. The higher the frenzy factor, the more we offered the prize and, the better our ratings. The same principles applied to songs. This, of course, drove the economic factor….our sales.
- What are you deeply passionate about? Is it helping others? Is it doing detailed work? Is the joy of completion? According to Collins, it’s not about stimulating your passion, but finding out what makes you passionate. This will make your work fulfilling and ensure your passion is infectious to your team.
The good-to-great companies determined their three dimensions and then hunkered down and stuck to them. They didn’t wander around aimlessly like the fox. They had a purpose, a passion, and a vision. Some may define it as a “calling”. The research revealed the Hedgehog Concept motivated their teams and helped drive their ultimate success beyond everyone else in their specific industries.
There were several other findings in the book that differentiated the good-to-great companies. But start with the Hedgehog Concept. What can you be the best in the world at? How can you incorporate that into your brand to make it stick? How can you use your passion to inspire your team?
Some companies took longer than others to find their answers. Kick it around with other like-minded business owners to help you figure it out.
See more about Good to Great here.