Hedgehog or Fox Conundrum

Would you rather be a hedgehog or a fox? Entrepreneurs will often go for the fox. Who am I to judge? The fox is a fabled animal with a certain mythical allure.

In business, however, enduring companies tend to be hedgehogs. Our little conundrum derives its essence from the “Hedgehog Concept”, rooted in an an Greek parable:

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
Archilochus 650 BC

It is a choice that boils down to understanding what you can (and can’t) be the best at. It is not about goals, strategies, intentions, or plans to be the best.

Leveraging the hedgehog

Jim Collins, the inventor of this concept, has spent a considerable amount of his career meticulously compiling data on the activities that enduring companies deploy.

Three main components

  1. Making a series of good decisions consistently.

  2. Doing it with supreme execution.

  3. Accumulating one upon another, over a long period of time.

Foxes employ scattered and inconsistent tactics. You see, they lack the clarity and single-mindedness of a hedgehog.

Key reflections

How do I make use of the concept? Enduring companies tend to exhibit hedgehog characteristics. They focus solely on what they can potentially do better than any other organisation. Let’s try to frame and understand these three basic areas:

  1. What you are genuinely passionate about.

  2. What you can outshine every other entity in.

  3. What propels your economic or resource engine most effectively.

Alas, few understand, without ego, their genuine potential. Reflect on this perspective, or read Great by Choice by Jim Collins to learn more.

So tell me, are you a hedgehog? Or a fox?