Do you ever find yourself in the situation where you can be of help in several very different efforts that, although seem valuable at the time, randomize your brand…not to mention stretch your time and affect your work/life balance? I certainly do. I think this happens as a result of having a broad set of skill sets, with broad visibility in the organization, a hunger to serve and lead others, and a depth of skills honed from an engineering background to help decompose problems and derive solutions.

Anyway, if you’re like me, you may also value a simple technique I use to help filter what efforts to commit to addressing. I call it ‘Be GREAT!’ and it is a derivative of Jim Collins’ Hedgehog concept but instead of applying it to identify business strategy, I also use it to identify services I can offer to my team and to the company at large.

First, let me briefly describe the Hedgehog concept. Essentially, Collins asserts that great companies have products that have an association to three important characters; Passion, Position, and Value. If a company’s products lack one of these three characters, then they will likely be good or mediocre at best. If, however, your company is passionate, well-positioned and has perceived customer value, the company can be great.


I think this concept is very interesting and I apply it to my career, my team, and my organization. That is, I use the Hedgehog concept to rapidly guide decisions to help identify which skills I deliberately improve and grow, what efforts I guide my team to commit to, and to which services my organization commits to.

So there are three essential Hedgehogs to consciously manage; My Hedgehog, my Team’s Hedgehog, my Organization's Hedgehog. When I’m able to directly connect all three, you, your team, and your organization can be great.

My Hedgehog: My Hedgehog refers to my skills. If the situation arises where an effort I commit to leverages my skills that I’m passionate about, where I’m well-positioned to leverage these skills in the effort, and my skills are perceived as valuable by the team, I consider committing to the effort.

Team’s Hedgehog: Team’s Hedgehog refers to the services or outputs of the effort. If the effort directly delivers value to the organization, if the effort is well-positioned in the organization, and the team driving the effort is passionate about the output, the team can be great.

Organization’s Hedgehog: Organization’s Hedgehog refers to the services the organization delivers to it’s customers. I think of organization synonymously as company – no differently to how Jim Collins describes it but extending it to Organizations within a company as necessary.

Here is a simple diagram illustrating the synergy that can be achieved when all three hedgehogs are intentionally connected.

Hedgehog Synergy

In the above diagram, I added the dimension of Time to only recognize that if this concept is deliberately managed, there is a sequence to determining how an Organization’s Hedgehog relates to a Team’s Hedgehog, to My Hedgehog.

The “Be GREAT!” method quickly helps me intentionally avoid being mediocre and deliver on being great, guide my team to be great, and directly support the organization and company be great. Way cool. :)