Jim Collins follow up to his bestseller, Build to Last, is entitled Good to Great and has had a profound effect on keeping business objectives on target.

There are 3 key concepts that have a tremendous effect on any business and ignoring these 3 concepts has an equally tremendous effect…not the effect we want.

Concept 1 – Hedgehog principle

In Berlin’s famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox” based on a Greek parable, we find 2 natural enemies pitted against one another.

Foxes pursue many ends at the same time and see the world and its complexities.  The fox never integrates their thinking into one overall concept or vision.  They are scattered moving up and down on many different levels.

Hedgehogs simplify a complex world or problem into a single idea that unifies and guides everything.  Basically, anything that does not somehow relate to the hedgehog idea holds no relevance.

The parable, as well as Berlin’s essay, shows us clearly when pitted against one another the hedgehog wins, every single time.

How does this apply to home-based-businesses?

You gotta keep the main thing the main thing, contacting new people about your business.  There are sly foxes out there that promise the system or that short cut or this list building method will “explode” your business and before you know it you’re spending your time just like the fox in the parable – over-involved in technology but not actually building relationships with potential distributors, affiliates or customers.

Concept 2 – Intersecting Circles

The intersection of 3 circles is money.  Meaning how you go from good to great.  Where these 3 circles have an intersection is where Collins suggests I put my focus…and I did.  To be candid it was this concept that brought us from bankrupt in Boston to beachfront in Kauai.  So think of 3 circles that intersect in 1 small area and that is where to pour on the hedgehog effect.

Circle 1 – What can you be the best in the world at?  This goes beyond simple competence and in many cases, it may be a product or service that you believe is the best or it may be training your team to excel.  Going from good to great demands you pick something big or small, that you can be the best at.

Circle 2 – What drives your economic engine?  This means what is the one thing above all others that drives income in your business.  It may be subtle or obvious but the hedgehog concept demands you know what it is.

For example, I have two reps of equal talent; and Twitter, while a helpful tool, is not what drives the sales.  One rep spends 3 hours a day building lists on Twitter and 1 hour a day on the key sale driver.  The other rep spends 3 1/2 hours a day on the key driver and 30 minutes on Twitter.  Who do you think is performing better?

Circle 3 – What are you deeply passionate about?  Good to great companies, Collins points out, did not pick a course of action then encourage people to become passionate about their direction.  Instead, the good-to-greaters decided only to do things that they could get passionate about, that passion can not be manufactured nor can it be the end result of a motivational effort.

Example: No one is really passionate about money but rather the things they can do with it.  We got passionate about moving from Boston to Kauai and it had a calming yet profound effect on staying with the hedgehog effect.

By believing we could be the best in the world at training, identifying that enrolling new reps would drive the economic engine and holding a passion for helping each person we worked with discover their own personal Kauai, we were able to leverage the hedgehog effect.  We have seen more talented, smarter and well-resourced foxes jump from one thing to another, so sad…  The focus on where these three circles intersect helped us embrace only those things that would intensify the intersection and quickly repel anything that would take us out.

Concept 3 – Don’t overreact to technology

Good-to-great companies…and you are your company…do not overreact to new technologies.  What Collins noticed is they tend to respond with thoughtfulness and creativity.  Their reaction is measured based on what they want to create, how to improve, while not sacrificing a high standard of excellence.

Mediocre companies react and lurch, motivated chiefly by fear of watching others hit it big while they are left behind.

We need change to make progress but not all change IS progress – Wooden. By staying in focus and allocating time to research after we’ve taken care of business is what good to great companies do.

Example: New tools for building massive followings on Twitter are now a dime a dozen and while some may increase followers is there any relationship with the followers?  Power of lists and contacts you are making online is not the number of contacts but the relationship that you have with the people on the list.  Mediocre companies have huge lists, while good to great companies have a relationship with their list that produces results because they kept doing the thing they were best in the world at – the chief activity that drove their economic engine and didn’t sacrifice the passion for new technology.

Good to Great made a profound impact on our thinking, business, and life… mostly because we shared this concept and book with others over and over.

Feel free to share this post with others.


mark januszewski

The World’s Laziest Networker

About the Author

  • Mark, a great way of looking at focus and effort. Too often we allow ‘technology’ or lack thereof to distract us from our forward march to success!

    Many thanks for this post.

  • Mark,

    Well said!! Ashamed to admit the times the “sly foxes” have dangled their false promises of “simplicity with explosive growth” to me & I bit, only to come back to the realization that there is nothing that can or ever will replace building personal relationships.

    Sincere thanks,
    Diane Norris MK

  • Hi Mark, excellent video, the 3 circles really hit home with me in its simplicity. For me it is do what I am passionate about, which is helping people become financially free, being the best compassionate communicator I can be, and interacting with people while building personal relationships with them. Thanks Mark for the great info.

  • Sheeeesh!

    With everything else that we are trying to discover and assimilate, I now find that I personally also have the appearance of a “foxy hedgehog” (low probability of that) or, more likely, a “hedgehoggy fox”. Like too many times when I “identified” with the person being described in my pastor’s Sunday message, I see that I have been found out by Mark (again).

    Thanks, Mark…no more new technology for me. Those “gurus” have gotten the last thin dime from this wanna-be entrepreneur that they will ever see. Just in time, too…I find that I need to make some additions to my library.

    What a great post, Mark. All kidding aside, I saw myself in your vid more than once…I appreciate the wake-up call. I’m off to identify what I can truly be best at and also for what I can truly sustain passion over the L – O – N – G haul.


  • […] GOOD TO GREAT Jim Collins follow up to his best seller, BUILD TO LAST, is entitled GOOD TO GREAT and has had profound on keeping business objectives on target.  There are 3 key concepts that have a tremendous effect on any business and ignoring these 3 concepts has an equally tremendous effect….. not the effect we want. CONCEPT 1 – HEDGEHOG PRINCIPLE In Berlin's famous essay "The Hedgehog and the Fox" based on a Greek parable we find 2 natural … Read More […]

  • Hello Mark & Davene & all,
    Thanks again for another great piece of info. I like the Hedgehog Principle. W.O.W. Cells beginning to function the way they were created to do. Appreciate all you do. Bill W.

  • Dearest, you always find these wonderful, creative ways to get info into people’s heads. Great job! The information you so freely share is a great example to me and everyone.

  • So now what we have to do is focus on the main thing and the main thing right now in my MLM business is to show people my business. This has got to be the first important task I do each and every day starting at 9:00am every morning.

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