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Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Hedgehog saw his shadow!


The Hedgehog saw its shadow!

Yesterday, I had the honor of leading 4 of our company's finest leaders in a quarterly off site "strategic" retreat.  In previous gatherings, we've jumped into tactical issues, and attempted to "fight fires" from 8-5... then write off our progress as "successful collaboration."  

Truth is, this problem solving / fire fighting is no different than any other day.  We just did it at a rented location while sitting on uncomfortable chairs... off site. 

Since my experience with the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership 1-Day event in January this year, I knew that there would be NO WAY for me to compromise for status quo.  At this event, Dave promoted a reading list, and offered a book bundle at at special conference rate.  Hungrier than a hobo on a hot dog, I jumped on this book pack BEFORE the conference even began, wanting the assurance I'd have mine before they sold out.  

The book that transformed my mind was Good to Great, by Jim Collins.  I know it's been around.  And I know today is September, and that conference was in January... but I read it.  ..err... I DEVOURED it!  

In fact, I had our quarterly strategic meeting agenda already planned out before I started reading this book... but God used the concepts in this book to change the plans.  I love it when He does that.

Like a pack of timid cub-scouts, our leadership team assembled at the off site location... anticipating more of the chaotic frustration they had grown so use to.  

Instead, I handed surveys out and showed video clips as we discussed, chapter by chapter the contents of this book. 

It was so helpful, because this wasn't the "Rob" show... It wasn't "Rob" saying what needed to be done!  We collectively invited Jim Collins to facilitate our discussion and lead us through one of the most memorable off site STARTegy sessions our company has ever seen.

The most impactful session we entered into was the "Hedgehog concept" chapter, where we identified answers to the following questions:

1.  What are you passionate about?

2.  What can you be the BEST IN THE WORLD at?  (and also, what CANT you be the best in the World at?)

3.  What drives your economic engine?

TOGETHER, we identified what we are passionate about!  
- Customer's success.  We live, breath, and always consider how our decisions and actions will affect our clients' success.
- We are passionate about the industry we serve.  
- We are passionate about empowerment.  

TOGETHER, we identified what we CAN actually be the best in the world at!
- Providing the total package to our clients
- The WOW factor!  (underselling and over delivering)
- Partnering to establish long term solutions
- Truly being customer-centric in all that we do.

TOGETHER, we identified what drives our economic engines..
- Our business operates on profit per project.  Period.  No retainers.  No membership dues.  All our tracking, all our planning, EVERYTHING we do is counted by profit per project.  

The next step for us was to search out the overlap of these three key questions, and identify one summary statement of mission.  The "WHY, WHAT, and WHO" of what our company does.  This is referred to as the "Hedgehog Concept."

A Hedgehog knows EXACTLY what it does, better than any other animal in the forest... it curls up into a self defensive spike ball!  Never a question.  Never a decision.  Never a venture that would separate a hedgehog from this concept.

Yes it is raw, but we simply came up with this as our Hedgehog Concept:  

"We partner with manufacturers to help their company become better, through each project."

By clearly developing a short, sweet, and PORTABLE Hedgehog Concept we can filter all tactical decisions through a new light.  A pure light.  All team members, from all levels within the organization, can carry this statement with them as their motivating "battle cry." 

This statement will guide decision making.  This statement will guide business development activities.  This statement will guide our approach to all that we do.  But most importantly, this statement will unify our team in a new way.  

Rick Warren said it best:  Its far better to be CLEAR, than to be CUTE.  

This Hedgehog Concept gave us just that:  Clarity. 
Our day was filled with terrific dialogue and conversation.  "Healthy Conflict" as Patrick Lencioni would call it...  We, finally, grabbed on to something that truly was STRATEGIC and spent an energy creating day hashing it out and refining it.  THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT OUR TEAM NEEDED.  All our differing opinions were thrown out with the fires we fight... as we united as one around our Hedgehog Concept.

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest when all you are focused on is trees... and we had lost sight ourselves!  Fighting fires fills time, but it doesn't accomplish what the off site strategic meeting should... Yesterday was different.  Yesterday... was STRATEGIC. 

I praise God for Dave Ramsey and Jim Collins both.  More than they each realize, both have been our company's advisory board and coach... and we will continue to invite their wisdom into our battles...

Proverbs 24:5-6 (New International Version)

 5 A wise man has great power,
       and a man of knowledge increases strength;
 6 for waging war you need guidance,
       and for victory many advisers.

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