Hedgehog Revisited

Last week while delivering a Sage Business Strategy Workshop, the group had a dialogue about Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Principle (aka BHAG). I shot a brief video about the conversation. (Sorry, about the sound sync problem. I am still working some of this technology out.)


I have a couple of questions for you:

  1. What do you think of the idea of looking at the three bisections?
  2. Are the names we have developed correct? If not, what might you propose.

Here is a better view of the diagram. (Au is the periodic table abbreviation for gold. MM is maintenance mode.)



  1. Great post Ed!

    The “Maintenance Mode” is endemic in the professions. I can’t count the number of CPAs, lawyers, and others I’ve met who are just going through the motions with zero passion for what they do everyday. I think it’s tragic, but it’s one of those conundrums of life: a large number of people are in this mode, and the rest of us are the Black Swans.

    It doesn’t seem this way, given the circles we run in, but I can assure everyone that when we go before an audience that is not self-selected (like Ethics), most people just seem to be lifeless about their work. No answers here, just observations, but thanks for framing it in a way makes it easy to communicate.

  2. Ron, I know, and I find that to be very sad, even as you say, tragic.

    PS – I am leaning more toward calling “maintenance mode” the “black hole.” I think it is a better metaphor.

  3. I understand the concepts behind the analysis of the bi-sects; but is that not the point of the BHAG? The goal is to make sure your business is focused on the inclusion of all three elements. Any one of the bi-sects has an element missing which lessons the shelf life (success) of the enterprise.

    Take for instance the intersection of the Passion and Dollars. If you are not great at it, it may be what customers desire and are willing to pay for, but they will not pay you for it because you cannot consistently deliver the quality; even if you are passionate about the delivery. The street corner musician comes to mind. My impression is they live to play music, but they are not good enough to join a band, play for an orchestra….they usually lack talent, or the commitment to practice to the level of greatness.

    My point being, if we settle for any two out of the three we are in essence sabotaging our own existence in the business world. I face the temptation every day. i.e. Option one is lucrative, but we don’t have/can’t realistically obtain the expertise; Option two is what I long to do and I am great at it, but when it goes to market no one really wants the service. I sometimes look at the opportunity, but deny the third leg of the stool is missing.

    It is hard work, but the requirement to look for all three elements in the business plan is crucial.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Gary.

    Yes, the tri-section is the point of the BHAG, what I was exploring is when it is not the case. I know that you incorporate all three, but sadly, both Ron and I have encounter too many professionals who have not.


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