What It Takes to Go From ‘Good’ to ‘Great’

A Hedgehog Mindset

Jim Collins’ book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t describes the six traits of successful companies. Our past articles have discussed three of those characteristics (humble yet driven leaders, the right people, and confronting reality) as they relate to contractors. Now, on we go to the fourth trait. 

Great Companies’ Trait #4: The Hedgehog Concept 

Good-to-great companies understand what they excel at and stick to doing it—like a hedgehog. Hedgehogs are exceptional at one thing (rolling up into a spiked ball), which pays off because it ensures their survival. 

Like a hedgehog, successful companies focus their efforts on doing what’s remarkably effective for them. 

According to Collins, the path from good to great involves finding the intersection between three considerations. At the center is your hedgehog superpower.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What drives your economic success?
  • What do you do the best—and better than anyone else? 

Let’s take a look at how a contractor might use that formula to discover what they should concentrate on in their business.

Hypothetical Scenario: Joe Carpenter 

What is Joe’s passion? While Joe Carpenter doesn’t mind doing regular building work, he really loves the challenge of building and installing spiral staircases. He enjoys the art of using geometry to perfect the particulars of each unique installation.  

What drives Joe’s economic success? Not only does Joe enjoy making spiral staircases, but also he earns a really good profit on them. At the same time, he realizes (because of heavy competition) that he doesn’t make much profit at all on standard residential addition projects.

What is Joe exceptionally good at doing? Joe has become known as the “go-to” guy for spiral staircases. He has an innate talent for creating them, and customers rave about his ability to capture their vision. Plus, most other contractors don’t want to touch those projects—and those who do lack the ability that Joe possesses. 

What is Joe’s hedgehog superpower? Spiral staircases are where Joe’s passion, financial success, and talent intersect. It would be wise for him to direct most of his focus, ambition, marketing, and energy toward attracting more customers who want an expert at building spiral staircases.

What’s your hedgehog superpower?

Stay tuned for our next article. We’ll talk about the importance of a “culture of discipline.”

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