Tips for Prescribing a Future for Your Business
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Are you wondering what the future holds for your business? Whether you want
to predict your future or prescribe an outcome of your choosing, you'll have
plenty of company!
Throughout history, we humans have tried many ways to predict the future,
from reading palms to stargazing. Today, we refer to these as descriptive
methods when we attempt to describe objectively what the future will be or could
On the other hand, prescriptive methods focus on determining what the future
should be. These techniques can help us clarify our preferences and values so we
can create a vision of what we would like to see in our lives, businesses, or
Once we understand what we would like the future to represent, we're better
able to take the actions required to implement it. Ideally, that future will
align with our passions, gifts, and what we (or our companies) can really be the
best at doing. This article suggests a two-stage process for achieving that
First, Identify Your "Hedgehog Concept"
So, what can you be the best in the world (or at least in your community) at
doing? This thought-provoking reflection is one of many from Jim Collins' "Good
to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't."
Collins' team examined 1,435 companies to see which ones made substantial
gains in profitability and sustained those improvements over 15 years or more.
Since the 1970s, only 11 companies had risen from mediocrity to greatness and
stayed there -- topping many other prosperous firms that lacked the same staying
Of eight characteristics these companies shared, all held an unshakable
adherence to becoming the best in the world at whatever they did. Each company
committed to doing only those things and nothing else. That sometimes meant
dropping their core businesses to pursue other things at which they could become
the best in the world.
Collins and his team coined the term "hedgehog concept" to reflect a
single-minded determination and focus that, similar to that of the hedgehog
animal, attempts to do only one thing really well, such as curl up and roll. A
hedgehog concept actually represents the intersection of three areas:
1) What you're most passionate about 2) An understanding of what you could be
the best at doing, and 3) A metric that drives your economic engine and helps
you measure results.
Keep in mind that according to Collins, this concept is not a goal, strategy,
or plan, but an understanding of what you can and can't be the best at doing.
Until you develop your hedgehog concept, you won't know your true vision,
mission, or purpose.
Next, Define Your "Business Success Criteria"
Do you have a crystal clear idea of the types of business undertakings that
align with your gifts, talents, passions, and strengths? In that same context,
have you thought about whether your business can be the very best in the world
at doing those things?
If the answers are "yes," you are in an excellent position to choose the
ventures that can give you the greatest satisfaction and results.
If you're not yet totally clear about the answers to these questions,
developing a set of "business success criteria" can enable you to select
worthwhile endeavors with much deeper insight, and thus set the conditions for
successfully pursuing them. A hedgehog concept thereby represents part of the
formula you can devise to identify and choose among your very best options.
Why is this so important? It's not uncommon for people to wander into
businesses, projects, and professions opportunistically, which means that they
often select the next available and convenient thing that comes along. At times,
this may be necessary for financial reasons. But unless we understand our
underlying success criteria, we might not recognize the options that truly fuel
and inspire us -- those that are best suited to our passions and strengths.
Some of your criteria could be practical considerations, and others more
lofty ideals. But all of your criteria will be essential to achieving balance,
fulfillment, prosperity, and higher contribution in your life.
In conclusion, a set of carefully crafted success criteria fueled by a potent
hedgehog concept provides an unbeatable strategic advantage, and an excellent
direction-finder for prescribing your future!
About the Author
Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the creator of the award-winning "Straight Talk on
Boosting Business Performance" success program, and specializes in helping
people align their life passions with their business purpose. To learn more
about her tools and resources and sign up for other free tips like these, visit
her site at
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-06-16 21:30:29 in Business Articles