LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
Manage Your Subscription – Subscribe/Unsubscribe  Contact Us About Your Subscription

Hillcrest Church Office
May 6, 2004

LeaderLines is a weekly “e-briefing” providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.

Do you know friends who would appreciate LeaderLines?  Just forward this e-mail to them!  Have you subscribed to LeaderLines?  You can subscribe by logging on to Click here and following the instructions.  Your e-mail address will not be sold or given away to anyone, and you can automatically change your subscription or drop it by following the easy steps provided with each e-mail.

Here is this week's LeaderLines. . . .

“Good to Great: The Hillcrest Hedgehog”
by Tom Goodman

Check it out!

I’m looking for our Hillcrest Hedgehog—have you seen it?

Don’t panic:  I’m not saying a hedgehog a child brought in to Sunday School for “show-and-tell” has escaped!

But we do have a Hillcrest Hedgehog—and I’m looking for it.

Let me explain:  We’ve been taking a few editions of LeaderLines to learn some lessons from Jim Collins’ best-selling business book.  In Good to Great, Collins highlights the common habits and decisions that led eleven companies from average performance to superior performance.  One of Collins’ most helpful insights is that good companies became great companies by discovering—and relentlessly sticking to—their “Hedgehog Concept.”

According to an ancient Greek parable, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”  The fox is a cunning creature, able to devise many crafty ways to attack the hedgehog.  The hedgehog is a dowdier creature, a cross between a porcupine and a tiny armadillo.  But when the fox attacks, the hedgehog rolls into a little ball and becomes a sphere of sharp spikes pointing in all directions.  The fox calls off the attack and returns to the woods to devise a new scheme.

Collins applies that visual aid to his good-to-great companies in this way:  While companies that fail to become great never integrate their thinking into one overall concept or unifying vision, companies that become great did so by simplifying their thinking down to a single organizing idea.  They discovered (a) what they could be the best at, (b) what made them passionate, and (c) what drove their economic engine.

Walgreens, for example, dominated the drug-store business after focusing on providing convenient stores.  That was it, and every decision flowed from that:  in the suburbs, they bought corner lots so drivers could enter and exit from several directions; in the city, they “clustered” stores so pedestrians would never be more than a mile from a store; they were the first to offer drive-in window service; they also worked to make shopping more convenient by offering multiple services under one roof (like one-hour photo processing).

Every company that went from good to great in Collins’ book did so only after they identified their Hedgehog Concept and began working it.  However, as important as it is to have a Hedgehog Concept, Collins cautions the reader:  “You can’t just go off-site for two days, pull out a bunch of flip charts, do breakout discussions, and come up with a deep understanding” of what can make your company great.  Collins discovered that among the fifteen good-to-great companies he studied, on average it took four years to discover their Hedgehog Concept.

With that caution in mind, I’m hesitant to suggest that I’ve found a Hillcrest Hedgehog after only a year with you.  I like what Alan Wurtzel said when he took leadership of Circuit City.  Across a span of seventeen years the company beat the market twenty-two times—that’s good to great!  But at the beginning, when Wurtzel was asked where he wanted to lead the company, his surprising answer was, “I don’t know.”  He resisted the urge to walk in with “the answer.”  He just spent the first few years building his team and asking questions, and over time a simple and obvious direction for the company arose.

So, I’m hesitant to suggest a Hillcrest Hedgehog after only one year . . . but I’ll venture a suggestion.  I think our church could become the best in Austin at convincing those we know to join Christ in a climb up the discipleship H.I.L.L.  Sadly, I’ve seen too many churches in Austin that are focused only on convincing Christians from one church that they’d be better off at another church.  We have an opportunity to set an example of what a church is really meant to be:  a place that attracts anyone and everyone to join Christ in a climb up the H.I.L.L.  Sounds like Great Commission stuff to me (Matthew 28:18-20).

Well, it’s a work in progress!  Let’s keep talking together and praying together so that we can find our Hillcrest Hedgehog!


P.S.  Speaking of finding our Hillcrest Hedgehog, make a special effort to attend the events of “Vision Sunday,” May 16.  During the two services, I will bring a message on what I believe God is calling us to do in the next few years as a church.  During the Sunday School hour (9:30-10:30), all adult classes are encouraged to meet in the MPC for a continental breakfast and a presentation by our Ministry Staff.  Come hear BJ, Jim, Gene and Herb share what God has put on their hearts for their ministry areas.  Then in the evening, from 6:00-7:30, the Ministry Staff will present our recommended Fall schedule and field your questions.  Please note the earlier start time for this evening’s program—6:00 p.m.

If you have internet access, log on to www.HillcrestAustin.org/ScheduleProposal to see the suggested schedule and hear an audio file of my explanation of the proposal.  Spread the word on this item!

We have had a chance to speak to several groups in smaller settings, and if you would like one of the Ministry Staff to speak to your group, please contact us!  We’d like a chance to fellowship in intimate settings with your own department, ministry group, or even your own circle of friends.  Call us!