What have you said "no" to lately?  Ok…I don’t mean a second piece of pie.  I’m talking opportunities.  What opportunities have you looked at and then said, "no, that doesn’t fit our strategy"?

Let’s try it this way:  If you lined up all the decisions you’ve made in the last year about what to do and what not to do, would there be some on the "not to do" list that got there because they didn’t fit your strategy?  Or would everything on the "not to do" list be there because it wasn’t in the budget?

Last week I worked my way through Good to Great and the Social Sectors (a companion volume to Good to Great that Jim Collins wrote to explain some of the nuances of great in the non-profit world).  Amazingly practical for all of us.

One of the topics that Collins teases out is the Hedgehog Concept as it applies to non-profits.  Remember that the gist of the hedgehog concept (one of the key ideas in Good to Great by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras) is that your organization will be most effective at the intersection of three intersecting circles:

  1. What you are deeply passionate about
  2. What you can be the best in the world at, and
  3. What best drives your resource engine (time, energy, brand)

Think about the overlap spot of those three circles.  What Collins identified was the spot where if you concentrate your efforts you’ll be most effective.  Conversely, whenever you put your efforts into something that’s not in that spot you can’t help but be less effective.  Additionally, since your time, talent and treasure is finite…anything spent anywhere other than the optimum spot cannot achieve the greatest return.

So…back to the opening question:  what have you said "no" to lately?  One sentence that kept drawing me back was this one:

"The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, "No thank you" to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test (p. 17)."

Can you see yourself working through the decisions on your plate with that statement in mind?  You’ll need both a piercing clarity and relentless discipline.  But isn’t that worth the investment?

The Willingness to Say “No Thank You”