In a previous post, why I wore only my underwear to work, I talked about why we want to grow IBEX. In part 2 of this series on our growth journey, I am moving on to our first growth step, defining our Hedgehog Concept.
One of the most influential business books for IBEX has been Good to Great by Jim Collins. In his book, Collins talks about how great companies have a Hedgehog Concept. Collins talks about the shifty fox, always scheming new ways to attack the seemingly hapless hedgehog, versus the hedgehog, which does not lose sleep over the fox and simply rolls into a spiky ball each time the fox attacks, waiting out the fox’s latest brilliant scheme.
IBEX in the past, like many companies, acted more like the fox. We realized that what we had always done (shifting focus too often and being reactive instead of proactive) was not the best way to grow, motivate ourselves, or be a great company. The best companies have a simple Hedgehog Concept and they stick to it.
How to get to your Hedgehog Concept is much more difficult than just understanding the concept.
We were given a gift a few years ago by one of our customers. The gift was taking the time to explain to us the full spectrum of their payroll and staff management challenges. We were shocked at what they had to go through. The day to day job of managing their staff and getting the payroll figured out was much harder then we imagined. Processing their bi-weekly payroll (our job) was easy compared to what they had to go through to get us the payroll information. Doing the easy part was not our idea of being a great supplier or a great company, so we rolled up our sleeves and dug in. Along the way we realized that there were many organizations just like this one and our first industry specific solution was born www.ibexinclusion.ca.
It consumed all the spare energy we had in order to make this solution work, but the joy we produced for our customer was immense. It felt good, really good, to be appreciated. IBEX’s financial return was good on this and what was really cool was that we were saving our customers while doing well ourselves. A win-win situation.
We were sold on narrowing our focus and doing a much better job at much less things. We now knew what to say no to. And, as we learned from Jim Collins, the hallmark of a strong Hedgehog concept is knowing what to say no to.
Today we focus on two things that go hand in hand. We provide premium payroll services with the newest and best payroll platform in Canada (more on how we made that happen in my next post) and we provide the Inclusion system to developmental service agencies across Canada. We’ve whittled down our What We Do List to these two key things, our list of Things We Don’t Do Anymore is much longer – and that is a good thing.