The Hedgehog and the Fox

core focus in business Are you a hedgehog or a fox in business? ’The Hedgehog and the Fox’ by Isaiah Berlin describes how the world can be divided into two types. The wily fox is cunning and knows many things, using various complex strategies to attack the hedgehog. Whereas the hedgehog is single-minded and only knows one big thing- rolling up into a perfect sphere of sharp spikes to defend itself against the fox. Surprisingly, the stubborn hedgehog always wins despite the many different tactics the crafty fox uses.

The Core Focus™ Concept

In business strategy the Hedgehog Concept is developed in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. It is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, or a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at – and sticking to it – a distinction that is absolutely crucial. The Hedgehog Concept, or Core Focus™ as EOS® calls it, is defined as the sweet spot intersection of two circles, as follows:

  1. What you are deeply passionate about? The idea is not to stimulate passion but to (re)discover what you love doing and focus on those activities.
  2. What can you be the best in the world at? (and, equally important what you can’t be the best at). If you can’t be great at your core business, then your core business can’t form the basis of your Hedgehog Concept.

Find Clarity In Your Business

Defining your Hedgehog Concept is about clarifying what you do and why you do it. This is an iterative process. How valuable are these ideas on strategy when most leadership teams have too much to do already? It’s all about clarity. A clear strategy and vision ultimately leads to clarity with your people, your suppliers and your customers. Clarity translates into focus. With the increased intensity of focus, your people will accomplish more. Strategy drives revenue. If your company doesn’t want to grow, then these strategy elements will fall on deaf ears. Of course there’s a danger in not growing. As Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds said, “When you’re green you grow; when you’re ripe, you rot.”

Whether or not you’re a stubborn hedgehog or a wily fox in business, understanding of what you can be the best in business at and stubbornly sticking to it, is a proven key to success. The Entrepreneurial Operating System® is a blueprint for building a growth-focused company. If you own a business and are feeling frustrated, stuck or unhappy there are a number of steps you can take today.

Next Steps:

Related Posts

Your Job Doesn’t Count as a Rock

Creating quarterly goals, or Rocks as we call them at EOS®, takes a lot of careful planning and consideration. These goals should represent the most important things you must accomplish in the next 90 days. We’ve all heard goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Read on »

Mind the Gap

Train and subway stations often have signs that warn travelers to “mind the gap” to prevent accidents. In business, owners and Visionaries should also “mind the gap” between their expectations and reality.

Read on »

Priority Isn’t Plural

During a recent annual session, a client emphasized an important point that I’d like to share with you. As the leadership team discussed potential goals for the coming year and Rocks for the coming quarter, their thinking strayed from the company vision.

Read on »

Subscribe to the EOS Blog

Subscribe to the EOS Blog:


Base Camp


Client Portal



Search the EOS Worldwide Blog