Stick to the knitting

August 15, 2018

I just finished Good to Great, the Jim Collins classic. The book felt like the 90-minute director's cut of a 4-hour movie; five years of research findings in 200 pages. It's a great book.

The explains that every great organization needs a "hedgehog concept": a unique idea of what the organization does, that combines the "three circles" of (a) passion, (b) great economics, and (c) world-leading competence.

Basically, what can you—your company, your organization, even you—do better than anyone else, that you care deeply about, in a sustainable, profit-generating way?

I couldn't help but think of Collins when I saw the University of Illinois is doubling down on entrepreneurship. Following Collins, they should "get out of this business"; they'll never be the best at it. Far better to focus on PhD-level research in materials, semiconductors, and computer science (the real keys to entrepreneurship) and leave technology commercialization to Silicon Valley, or Shenzhen.

As I said before, there's little room for second-best.

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