Discovering your Hedgehog: What are you deeply passionate about?

As discussed in my last post, defining your company’s Hedgehog gives you a clear understanding of what you can be the best at and it establishes the foundation of the business’s strategy – providing clarity and direction, becoming an essential framework for critical decision-making. 

The first step in discovering your Hedgehog is to figure out, or define ‘What are you deeply passionate about?’  

Having an unshakeable passion for why your company does what it does is perhaps the most crucial element of the strategy that drives your business forward. Sharing this passion with your wider team will have an immeasurably powerful affect resulting in a highly engaged, aligned and energised team. 

In his latest book, “The Nine Lies about Work”  Marcus Buckingham discusses the importance of ‘cascading meaning’ through the business, –  which in turn ensures goal setting is ineradicably linked to the purpose of the work and its contribution to the greater cause. Harvard Business School Professor and author, Dr. Frances Frei, says that culture guides discretionary behaviour in the absence of direct supervision and I believe that clarity of purpose is one of the foundations of a great culture.

It’s become slightly cliched now but nevertheless, I think this stands true… investing in the competencies you require to live your passion, enables you to become better at what you do and, with focus and disciplined management practices, will ultimately lead to rewarding commercial outcomes.

A way to articulate your passion is by identifying the Core Purpose of your company.  It may take you several attempts before you can lock it down – but once defined be sure to socialise it so everyone in the business understands how they can contribute towards the company living and achieving its purpose – everyday.

Occasionally CEO’s tell me their purpose is to meet shareholders expectations or simply to make more money.  While the commercial outcomes of what you do are obviously an important reality, I suggest it’s way more satisfying and fulfilling to drive towards a higher purpose rather than simply chasing the next dollar.  Without a Core Purpose, commercial success is likely to be a Pyrrhic victory which does your business little good in the long term.

You could argue it is difficult to be fanatical about, say, manufacturing mundane widgets day in and day out. With more thought though,  you may find it is really important to you what the widgets are used for or the affect the widget may have on a person or community. 

Alternatively, the widget manufacturer may stand for something important – e.g. only using environmentally friendly materials or diversity in the work place or developing incredible people within the business.  In other words, your Core Purpose may lie in the way your company operates or in the definition of its guiding principles.

If you have not yet defined your company’s Core Purpose, consider these questions:

  • What are you deeply passionate about?  
  • Why was the business formed in the first place?
  • Why does your company exist?  Why is that important?
  • What would happen if the company no longer existed? 
  • Why do you devote your energies to the business?
  • What does your company stand for?

A good example of a Core Purpose in action is Caci Clinics, New Zealand’s largest skin and appearance business.  They are obsessed with supporting their clients on their quest to achieve new heights of self-confidence and self-esteem byhelping improve the health of their skin. Caci’s Core Purpose of “Skin Confidence” resonates right across the business. Treatment Providers (Registered Nurses and Beauty Therapists), support staff, franchise owners – all stakeholders are passionate and aligned – fixated with ensuring their clients can achieve “Skin Confidence”.

I spoke at Caci’s Annual Conference a few months back and the buy-in from the 350 attendees and passion for why they do what they do was palpable – clearly a driving force in their on-going success.

In my next post we’ll tackle the question of “What you can be the best the world at”