Educational Leadership and Management EDD8300

Applying Strategic Concepts to Planning

In Chapter 5 of Good to Great, Collins (2001) draws on a famous essay by Isaiah Berlin to depict organizations and their leaders as either hedgehogs or foxes. Berlin’s analogy seeks to explain the differences between organizations that focus on pursuing many ends at once in a highly complex world (foxes) and those that simplify the world into a single concept that unifies and guides everything (hedgehogs). For this assignment, reread Chapter 5 with your own organization and its strategic planning process in mind.

Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense for President Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, also served for a time as CEO of Ford Motor Company. He was renowned for requiring that all memos sent to him be one page or less. His view was that if a person could not state a position, provide evidence, and make a recommendation in one page, that person did not command the topic. While that standard of succinctness is not generally expected in this program, it is applied here as a good practice exercise. You may want to apply it in your own professional work.

For this assignment, your task is to address the following:

  1. Decide which of the two creatures—fox or hedgehog—best describes your organization.
  2. Apply the strategic planning concepts described by Collins in Chapter 4 to explain how your organization approaches its planning process.

To complete this assignment, adhere to the following:

  • Review Chapter 5 of Good to Great (pages 90–119) and any other chapters as needed to help you understand Collins’s positions.
  • Make an initial determination as to whether your organization is a fox or a hedgehog. Explain your reasoning briefly.
  • Answer the following three questions about your organization that make up the Circles of the Hedgehog concept (Collins, p. 96). Draft your answers in no more than one page.
    • What can your organization be the best in the world at doing?
    • What drives your organization’s economic engine?
    • What is your organization deeply passionate about?
  • Examine carefully the characteristics of the council as described on page 115. Think of three people at your organization whom you would pick to serve with you on the council.
  • Using the answers to the questions you drafted above, write a three-page (maximum) speech you would give to this group at their first meeting to kick off a process designed to discover your organization’s Hedgehog Concept.

Submit your speech by Sunday of this week.

Note: Your instructor may also use the Writing Feedback Tool to provide feedback on your writing. In the tool, click the linked resources for helpful writing information.

Portfolio Prompt: Save this learning activity to your ePortfolio.


Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t. New York, NY: Collins Business.


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