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The hedgehog strategy has long been an excellent strategy for success in life and business. The hedgehog strategy compares the business approach of being a hedgehog rather than being a fox. Many people chose to be foxes. Foxes are beautiful, sleek, cunning and fearless. Hedgehogs are small, slow and quiet.

What does the comparison tell us? The hedgehog strategy teaches the art of simplicity and focuses on the primary goal of the company. When talking about the hedgehog strategy, we should talk in comparison with the fox strategy.

The Hedgehog Strategy

What is the Hedgehog Strategy?

The hedgehog strategy was founded from an ancient Greek parable that says: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. The parable explains how the fox employs many strategies to catch the hedgehog. It does a lot of things, but it gets defeated every time. The fox walks away, lamenting with its nose pricked with spines. It never occurred to the fox that the hedgehog only knows how to do one thing, which is to defend itself.

A British philosopher Isaiah Berlin took the parable and related it with the modern-day in an article in 1953 – “The Hedgehog and the Fox”. Berlin divided people into two: Hedgehog and Fox.

He reiterated that foxes follow many goals and purposes at the same time.  Their minds are focused on too many things, which makes them less attentive. They achieve little in the end. On the other hand, Hedgehogs focus on one vision and use what they have to achieve what they want.

Jim Collins, a business researcher, and consultant developed this concept in his book in 2001 – “Good to Great”. He emphasized what good an organization will be doing themselves to identify what they can do best. He argued that when an organization finds out its hedgehog strategy, the leaders should use their energy and resources to pursue it. A company will thrive and succeed when the going gets tough if they identify their hedgehog strategy.

The people who made exploit in the world of business and innovation can be compared to hedgehogs. They focus on the thing they know how to do best.

The Hedgehog Strategy

How to Apply the Hedgehog Strategy

Organizations that want to be successful can apply the hedgehog strategy. How can you apply it?

Discover your passion

Find out what you are passionate about. What wakes you up in the morning and keeps you awake at night voluntarily. A famous parable says that: “if you do what you love, you will never live a day to work”. In an organizational setting, find out what drives your employees. What they are passionate about. How does the purpose of the organization inspire them? What assessment, motivation, and drive are you looking for when recruiting new employees?  Assess the company’s core values. Do your workers buy into them? Do they find it exciting or challenging to achieve? This will guide you through the process of passion discovery.

Understand what you do best

Understanding what you can do best will give you an edge over others. Figure out what your company can do best. The aim is to be the best in your field. When considering what you can do best, keep in mind what you can never be best in. Be honest in your assessment. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades, which in the end will be a master of none. It’s okay to be averagely good in some areas. The most important thing is to understand what you can do best. You can use tools such as SWOT analysis, USP analysis, and core competence analysis.

The most commonly used is the SWOT Analysis. The analysis helps a company or person identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Understand your economic advantage

Your economic advantage depends on how you create cash flow and profit. What advantage do you have over competitors? Express your advantage as a single economic denominator. These economic denominators include profit per customer, profit per employee, profit per location, profit per geographic location, profit per part manufactured, profit per brand, and profit per sale.

Look for overlap

The overlap is where the first three steps meet. The place where your vision, your best ability, and your economic advantage aligns is your hedgehog strategy. You don’t have to bother if your hedgehog strategy is not correct. You might have to explore other and additional options to make your visions work. The overlap gives you an insight into what your organization will do to succeed.

Review and communicate your strategy

After finding your area of overlap, review your existing strategy if it aligns with your hedgehog strategy. Based on what you have learned, you and your organization will benefit from a revised strategy. You will need to carry the whole team along with the new strategy. It’s essential to start by explaining what hedgehog strategy is. Then explain why it is also essential to align with your vision, ability, and economic advantage. If the result anticipated after the review is significant, it is necessary to invest in the hedgehog strategy.

After implementation, the hedgehog strategy provides a long-term focus for your employees and the company at large.

Advantages of Hedgehog Strategy

  • Improve focus: Hedgehog strategy improves focus by helping individuals and companies to know what they can do best. When they know what they can do best, they don’t have to look for alternatives.
  • Getting priorities right: The hedgehog strategy helps in getting out priorities right. The goal is to be the best in the field. Irrelevant things are cut short when applying the strategy.
  • Increased productivity by paying attention: The simplicity in the hedgehog strategy increases productivity. The hedgehog focuses on one thing, which is its survival.
  • Reduced errors and mistakes: When there are few things to pay attention to, mistakes and errors are reduced. Tasks are completed faster, and unfinished jobs are completed.
  • Joy and increased enthusiasm: You become happier when you do what you love doing coupled with a good goal. To progress in the field will not be challenging because you are happy with what you do.
  • Success: Success is achievable when you pay attention to those things you can do best.

Examples of companies and people who adopted the hedgehog strategy

We have lots of examples of companies and people who have adopted the hedgehog strategy in the past. We will talk about a few of them.

  1. Jeff Bezos: When you talk about people who invested so much in their talents and what they are passionate about, Jeff Bezos is not far-fetched. He holds a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. He founded Amazon in 1994 as an online book store which later moved into other e-commerce products and services. The company is the world’s largest online sales company. It is also the most prominent online company by revenue. He was the first centibillionaire, according to Forbes.
  2. Elon Musk: Elon Musk was born and raised in South Africa. He first got a bachelor’s degree in economics and physics before deciding to go into business. His passion was application and software development. It was around the age of 10 that he developed an interest in computing and video games. Compaq bought his first project in 1999 for $307 million. EBay bought its second co-founder company PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion. He didn’t stop there; he founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturing company for transport services.
  3. Bill Gates: Bill Gates is an American businessman and software developer. He is the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, along with his childhood friend. He is regarded as one of the best-known entrepreneurs in microcomputer evolution. He held the position of the world’s richest man, according to Forbes, before being surpassed by Jeff Bezos in 2017.
  4. Mark Zuckerberg: Another example of people who benefited by aligning their vision, talent, and economic advantage is Mark Zuckerberg. Mark is the co-founder of Facebook, one of the biggest American companies. In 2013, he became the youngest self-made billionaire at the age of 23. He learned basic programming at a tender age, which he transformed into big projects.
  5. Bernard Arnault: Bernard is a French businessman and investor. He is the CEO and chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessey – Louis Vuitton SE. It is the world’s largest luxury company. He is regarded as one of the wealthiest men in the world, according to Forbes.

Conclusion

The hedgehog strategy focuses on how simplicity can yield great success. The hedgehog strategy helps to focus on three critical aspects: vision, talent, and economic advantage. Understanding these three concepts and where they overlap can help you identify critical things that will guide your organization to success.

Organizations can review their current strategy and look for ways to do it differently based on the strategy. This helps organizations to focus on what they are best at.

What’s your experience with the hedgehog strategy? Do you think it’s the best strategy to adopt? Do you want more explanation on how to go about the hedgehog strategy, join The Black Sheep Community today!

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