Do you find yourself trying to work on many different priorities and struggling to make progress?
If you do, then you are acting like a fox rather than a hedgehog.
Ever heard of the Hedgehog Concept?
Let me explain.
Around 650 BC, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”.
The story tells of a fox who wanted to catch a hedgehog. He tried various approaches, but every time he ended up getting his nose pricked by the spines of the hedgehog.
The fox is an analogy of those of us who try to pursue too many interests at the same time yet achieve little.
The hedgehog, on the other hand, has only one goal – survival; and achieves it perfectly.
Focus is the key to our success in both business and life. If you focus your energy on one goal at a time and pursue this goal until completion, you will be more likely to succeed.
Organisations who focus on one key strength are the ones who thrive in the long term.
Business guru, Jim Collins, discussed this concept in his book, “Good to Great“. He argued that organisations were more likely to succeed when they focused on the one thing that they do best. Collins named this the ‘Hedgehog Concept’.
Creating this clear focus for yourself and your team is, therefore, key to your success, but where should you start?
To start with you need to be clear on what you are currently working on. This might sound obvious, but you may be surprised by just how much time you are spending on certain tasks.
For a week, record all your activities and the time taken to perform them so you can analyse where you are actually spending your time, not just where you think you are.
Now assess each of these tasks according to these 3 criteria:
- Do I enjoy doing this task?
- Am I better at it than anyone else?
- Can I make money from doing it?
If any of these answers is a no then you need to drop it (stop doing it), delegate it (to someone else who can answer yes to all three) or defer it (for some time in the future when you can answer yes to all three).
Anything which remains can then be left in a ‘Do’ list and prioritised against each other according to these 3 criteria. How you prioritise these would depend on the value you put on each criterion, for example, is enjoyment more important to you than making money?
Once you have your priority list then they can be worked on one-at-a-time to ensure total focus.
By working in this way, and applying the Hedgehog Concept, you will see a number of benefits. The most important tasks will be completed faster and to a higher standard because they have your undivided attention. Mistakes will be easier to spot, and unfinished work in progress will be reduced. You will also be happier because you are focusing on the tasks which you enjoy.
Why not try living like a hedgehog for a week and see what you can achieve?
Do you have experience of living like a hedgehog? Please share your thoughts with us by adding them as comments below.