Hedgehog Concept

I read Good to Great by Jim Collins a while ago.

(Yes, I was one of those people that got tired of everyone telling me to read it so I ignored it for years. Yes, you should read it. Yes, I know…)

In the book, one chapter is devoted to his Hedgehog Concept. He uses a story of a fox in all of his cunning, craft, and creative ways trying to catch his prey, the hedgehog. However, each time the hedgehog simply curls up into a ball. The fox may try a dozen different tricks and attacks but fail every time because the hedgehog has one tried and true strategy: fold up.

So in a much more eloquent manner, Jim turns to us, the reader, to ask, “what is your hedgehog strategy?” What are our natural defenses, our innate knowledge, our personal strengths?


I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time, and then I turned to think about my team: how does this affect Coaching? Education? Training?

Questions to wrestle through:

  1. Are we passionate about helping customers? I hope all of us from whatever company we’re at can give a loud and affirmative “Definitely!” Our team really cares about advisors, their clients, and making better financial decisions. Most of us can say that, but can we also say that the means (i.e., building a product, creating a new app, or delivering a service in one city or another) is something we are all super passionate about?
  2. Are we — individually — born for this? Do our gifts lie here? This is a tough question to wrestle through. For some, we may not have all the right people on the bus. We may need to move people around. There may need to be some shifting, but can we say we have an all star team that’s really engaged in growing, learning, and delivering value?
  3. Does this drive our economic engine? Is what we’re doing building revenues, gaining traction, and furthering our mission? I think most of us would say “yes, but.” For example, yes, but there are a number of improvements that can be made here.

With our stereotypical venn diagram hedgehog, I think work won’t feel like work. We are focused on our strengths — not weaknesses — and we can make a healthy living off it.

That sounds like a fairy tale, right? I think it’s true, but I’ve rarely seen all three contrasts function harmoniously. Usually, it’s a juxtaposition of what I am passionate about vs. how can I use it to make money. Adding that third piece — what’s my personal core strength — has shed a lot of light on my own questions, hopes, and past. I hope it helps illuminate your path forward.


After I wrote the above, I reflected on my week and how I’ve seen my own insufficiencies (comparing what I know of me to the polished exterior of others — always a losing game), I realize that this is a major key here. Let’s look at our own gifts, our own strengths to leverage to help people out. I will always lose at the limbo (I’m 6’5” — never gonna win), so while I may be passionate about it and perhaps even find a revenue stream from it, why practice so insanely hard at my weakness?

If we all utilized our strengths efficiently, I’d be willing to bet our self confidence, abilities, and joy would skyrocket. If nothing else, we’d be safe from foxes.

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