Maybe the most-known and most influential business understanding of the last few years is Jim Collins’ “Hedgehog principle.” You know the three circles:
In the book I am presenting tomorrow morning at the First Friday Book Synopsis, Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t by Kevin Maney, Jim Collins writes the foreword and is quoted again near the end. Here is a key excerpt:
“There are two ways to get to the top. One is to climb an existing ladder, which can be a bit crowded. The other is to make your own ladder, and put yourself at the top.”
So, aim at a clear sense of what distinguishes you from those around you… This is counsel not just for a company or organization, but for an individual. In other words, work on your own personal hedgehog concept, your own hedgehog differentiation.
And, it is not just “what can you be “best in the world at,” but simply, what do you do best personally, and how can you cultivate that, nurture that, improve on that, and then leverage that to build your success? “Figure out what you can be best at, and create a category that fits.”
The book argues that you have to choose to make a key trade-of: between high-fidelity and high-convenience. Fidelity is the total experience of something. Convenience is how easy (or hard) it is to get what you want. For example, if you are not the “best” real estate agent, then make yourself readily accessible/convenient – return every call, always answer your phone, make it very, very easy to get to you – excel at convenience!
So, what is in your personal hedgehog circles? What can you do best? Figure that out, cultivate that, and build on it constantly on your own road to success.