TCC08: Applying the Hedgehog Principle to Online Higher Education

baby hedgehogAlthough I’m not one of the “cool kids” who gets to be in Florida at the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering this week, I will be doing some liveblogging from the TCC 2008 conference.

The first presentation I attended is by Dr. Karlyn A. Barilovits from Kaplan University.

“What do you wear when you’re presenting at an online conference? Do you wear your good robe and slippers?”

Hedgehog concept from Isaiah Berlin

  • Two types of people: hedgehogs and foxes
  • Hedgehogs worry only about next meal and have only 1 defense
  • Fox is cunning and tries to do lots of different things
  • “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Hedgehog focuses on the one thing it does well.

Jim Collins book Good to Great–applying the concept to organizations. Companies that moved from good to great operated under the hedgehog principle.

  • Fox philosophy: try whatever it takes to succeed
  • Hedgehog philosophy: focus on one guiding principle

“Hedgehogs see what is essential and ignore the rest.”

What do you need to move from good to great?

  • Single organizational purpose or mission
  • Answer these questions:
    • What do you care about the most?
    • What are your strengths?
    • What do you want to contribute?

These questions would be good for thinking about the purpose of a blog too–answering the question of “why am I writing?”

How do you move from good to great?

  • Hire disciplined people–the people who believe in your “hedgehog principle”
  • Provide resources to the people
  • Disciplined thought–everyone needs to buy into the guiding principle.
  • Disciplined action–maintain focus on the guiding principle

How do you implement the principle?

  • Realistic goals
  • “Specify areas of excellence”–what can you be best in the world at?
  • Determine a single economic factor (e.g. profit per x)
    I’m not sure about this one–do we really want to reduce course & curriculum decisions to only
    a single economic factor? I can see keeping a focus on a mission, but a single economic measure seems to oversimplify.
  • Regular assessment of how well you’re achieving your mission

People at all levels of the organization need to have buy-in, but management ultimately has to be responsible.

Mission can’t be subjective–you need to know how you’re going to measure it.

Image: ‘baby hedgehog – iriqi
http://www.flickr.com/photos/61305084@N00/248346343

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Update: I’m collecting all of my posts from TCC08 on a single page, so check there for more from the conference.

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One thought on “TCC08: Applying the Hedgehog Principle to Online Higher Education

  1. Pingback: My History of Live Blogged Notes | Experiencing E-Learning

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