Discover Your Hedgehog Concept – Your Move To Greatness?

Many consider Good to Great by Jim Collins the seminal book for creating a great business. One of the inflection points for moving from Good to Great is discovering your Hedgehog Concept.  This visual from Collin’s book emphasizes this moment.

Hedgehog Concept Breakthrough

It’s puzzling why so many business leaders feel adamant about the principles in the book, yet few invest time to discover this simplifying concept to make business decisions easier? More importantly to elevate their business from Good to Great!

Is it because so much has changed in the years since Collins wrote Good to Great? (Oct 15, 2001) Have other books replaced it in terms of business principles?

Are the disruptive forces in technology, world economy, and VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) requiring different fundamentals than Collins’ study?

Or is the time required to clarify a company’s Hedgehog Concept (“It took about four years on average for the good-to-great companies to clarify their Hedgehog Concepts.”) too long for business to patiently work toward due to Digital Disruption?


If the latter is true, then Collins caution is important:

“Recognize that getting a Hedgehog Concept is an inherently iterative process, not an event. The essence of the process is to get the right people engaged in vigorous dialogue and debate, infused with the brutal facts and guided by questions formed by the three circles.”

It’s my belief, that due to changes in the world, the economy, and VUCA, the Hedgehog Concept is more important to your success than it has ever been. The world is more complex than ever before. Simple is easier to understand and communicate.

The Hedgehog Concept – Strategic Advisory Council

Collins’ insights to discover your Hedgehog Concept revolves around the forming of a Strategic Advisory Council.

The Council consists of a group of the right people who participate in dialogue and debate guided by the three circles, iteratively and over time, about vital issues and decisions facing the organization.

The essence of the process is to get the right people engaged in vigorous dialogue and debate, infused with the brutal facts and guided by questions formed by the three circles.

Discover your Hedgehog Concept

– Do we really understand what we can be the best in the world at, as distinct from what we can just be successful at?

– Do we really understand the drivers in our economic engine, including our economic denominator?

– Do we really understand what best ignites our passion?

In response to, “How should we go about getting our Hedgehog Concept?”  Collins points to this diagram on page 114 and says: “Build the Council, and use that as a model.”


“Ask the right questions, engage in vigorous debate, make decisions, autopsy the results, and learn—all guided within the context of the three circles. Just keep going through that cycle of understanding.”

When asked, “How do we accelerate the process of getting a Hedgehog Concept?” Collins responded: “Increase the number of times you go around that full cycle in a given period of time.”

Collins also advised and cautioned,

“If you go through this cycle enough times, guided resolutely by the three circles, you will eventually gain the depth of understanding required for a Hedgehog Concept. It will not happen overnight, but it will eventually happen.”

 Your Strategic Advisory Council

We strongly suggest your leadership team begin the process of cycling through the Hedgehog Concept as well as discovering the vital issues and decisions facing the organization – which we call ‘The 7 Strata of Strategy’.

Coincidently these meetings will take place just ahead of the leadership teams monthly and quarterly meetings.

The Strategic Advisory Council’s task in the first meeting should  include understanding what YOUR One Phrase Strategy is, and to make recommendations to the Leadership team on what are your company’s strategic elements.

If you’re struggling to understand what the One Phrase Strategy is, and why it’s important visit:

Support Your One-PHRASE Strategy – Differentiating Actions

One Phrase Strategy – Seven Strata of Strategy

Download Verne’s One Phrase Strategy PDF

Is your business interested in making the leap from Good to Great? Have you made efforts to form a Strategic Advisory Council? Is now the time to do so?


To Scale Up your business! Take our Scaling Up/Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Ted Bonel – Strategy & Execution Advisors

Need assistance to help your team achieve your objectives to grow your business? Contact me at to schedule a free 30-minute discovery meeting.

About Strategy & Execution

We have been providing organisations and their leaders with facilitation support and executive education focused on strategy development and strategy execution for more than 20 years. Using business models such as Scaling Up, Exponential Organizations, E-Myth Mastery, Outthinker etc, we support organisations seeking to create or refine excellent strategies and execute them quickly and effectively.

Our expertise is based on a mixture of wide business experience, effective tools as well as a great deal of consulting and executive education. Our approach to working with clients is as unique as our specialist focus. We always seek to challenge our clients’ thinking – but equally are unafraid to roll up our sleeves and help execute the ideas we help generate. Learn more about us here or view our upcoming workshops and events.

If you are preparing for strategy development and/or a strategy implementation challenge and are committed to creating value for your organisation, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact us now