By Jim Mikula President/CEO
One of my favorite business books is “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the
Leap and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins. The book is a best seller at over 10 million copies sold worldwide. A 21-member research team led by Collins conducted interviews generating 2,000 pages of transcripts, studied 6,000 articles, and generated 384 megabytes of data. The book talks about a couple of interesting business terms. The first is BHAG (pronounced bee hag), an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, which Collins described as one that is “clear and compelling.” Secondly, the Hedgehog Concept that combines what a company is passionate about, what the company can be best at in the world, and what drives the company’s economic engine.
At some point after the book was published, Collins was challenged by leaders of several national non-profit organizations. His team conducted more research, and the outcome was a specialized volume, “Good to Great and the Social Sector.” The Chamber board read the book in preparation for our strategic planning meeting. At that meeting, we used the Hedgehog Concept for nonprofit organizations to generate an updated mission for the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. In a future column I will reveal the updated mission. For now, I will share how we used Collins’ principles and what I learned about the Chamber’s board.
The Hedgehog Concept for nonprofit organizations as explained in the book has three components: What Are We Passionate About, What Can We Be Best at in the World, and What Drives our Resource Engine. As the board members began defining what we are passionate about, it became clear that everyone truly enjoys living in Fredericksburg and appreciates that our community is made up of small businesses. This is a significant part of our town’s charm and attractiveness to many visitors to our town. We also came to the conclusion that the Chamber is just as passionate about supporting our business community.
When the work moved to What Can We Best at in the World, the team pointed to the way that the Chamber supported the business community during the pandemic by communicating timely and factual information about Federal and State programs. The Chamber staff scoured multiple governmental communications daily and kept the Chamber members fully informed. This led to the conclusion that the Chamber can be the best at finding/uncovering relevant information and effectively communicating the information to the membership.
Collins’ book identifies three components to what he calls the Resource Engine: Time, Money and Brand. The Time component for our Chamber is the number of hours members spend volunteering on committees, events, and of course, the Chamber Ambassadors. For us, Money covers the revenue streams at our disposal such as dues, sponsorships, events, programs and grants. Our Brand’s three components are meaningful relationships, quality in everything we do and being faithful to the mission.
Exploring the Hedgehog Concept can be a good way for any organization to get everyone on the same page and a good precursor to setting goals. For us, it helped to bring focus to our pursuit of articulating our mission and will help us navigate the rest of our planning process.
We will share the new mission in the near future along with some new initiatives to support the mission.