BlogHere’s a Hedgehog for You

Here’s a Hedgehog for You

By Gary Stokes
February 12th, 2021

That’s a cute critter in the header photo. But it also represents a powerful business concept, developed by Jim Collins in his classic book, “Good to Great”. Good to Great at Amazon

We’re big fans of Collins at Pendant. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, here’s how Collins summarizes it:

“The Hedgehog Concept is developed in the book Good to Great. A simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of three 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 economic or resource engine. Transformations from good to great come about by a series of good decisions made consistently with a Hedgehog Concept, supremely well executed, accumulating one upon another, over a long period of time.”

After our leadership team read Good to Great, we invested some energy in discussing it and dissecting it. Although the book is abundant with insight, we were especially interested in this idea, but we had a hard time figuring it out as it relates to our business at Pendant. That is until someone came up with the idea that as a Conveyor Control Systems Integrator, the real measure of the quality of our effort is all the way downstream in our process, specifically at startup.

We certainly have people that love startup and the satisfaction that comes with making a complex system work. We think we could become the best at it. And the quality of a startup affects our “bottom line” in many ways. The more we debated the idea, the more we realized that this could be a great Hedgehog Concept around which we could organize all of our efforts at becoming a truly great company. Aiming for the “perfect startup” would affect the way we do just about everything.

It starts with the initial Request For Quote, and requires us to dig deep and thoroughly understand the project from the client perspective (both the Conveyor Integrator and the End User). The project proceeds to the design phase, and we create drawings for permitting, for laying out all of the field devices used to control the system, and for building the control panels. Panel assembly and programming follow, and finally we send a team on site for startup. In all cases we work closely with the electrical installer whether hired by Pendant or the conveyor integrator, and in many cases, we manage subcontractors for things like the installation and commissioning of scan stations, print and apply units, etc. Finally, we may have to integrate the controls work with the implementation of our Revolution Street WXS software. All the while, project management is working to keep the team and the project on track. There are plenty of possibilities for things to go wrong.

It may seem like a blinding flash of the obvious that a “bobble” or bobbles in any of these upstream activities means that the startup could be negatively affected. But it’s not always as obvious on a day to day basis. Nor is it always obvious which specific activities and decisions have the biggest impact on startup. So we’ll use this little hedgehog as a way to remind our team to always keep their eyes on how the decisions we make, sometimes way upstream of startup, affect the quality of the startup.

This all leads to an important but obvious question. What is a perfect startup? We think that depends. On what? How our clients define it. So we’d love to hear from you. What do you think would make up a perfect startup? Let us know in the comments section.

Click here if you’d like a perfect startup on your next project