Individual exercises:
Looking Out for Number One
The board of directors you really need doesn’t work for your company.
Read the article

What is important about a personal council or board of directors?*
Listen in

*From Fast Company Real Times Phoenix

Aligning Action and Values
The Council is driving the bus. Do they know where they are going?
Read the article

The Council as a mechanism to understand the inflection points of change.
Listen in

The foundation of all ideas generated by Jim and the Chimps is supported by years of research.
Read on

The Council consists of a group of the right people who participate in dialogue and debate guided by the three circles, iteratively and over time, about vital issues and decisions facing the organization.

In response to the question, “How should we go about getting our Hedgehog Concept?” I would point to the diagram below and say: “Build the Council, and use that as a model. Ask the right questions, engage in vigorous debate, make decisions, autopsy the results, and learn—all guided within the context of the three circles. Just keep going through that cycle of understanding.”

When asked, “How do we accelerate the process of getting a Hedgehog Concept?” I would respond: “Increase the number of times you go around that full cycle in a given period of time.” If you go through this cycle enough times, guided resolutely by the three circles, you will eventually gain the depth of understanding required for a Hedgehog Concept. It will not happen overnight, but it will eventually happen.

Characteristics of the Council

1 The Council exists as a device to gain understanding about important issues facing the organization.
2 The Council is assembled and used by the leading executive and usually consists of five to twelve people.
3 Each Council member has the ability to argue and debate in search of understanding, not from the egoistic need to win a point or protect a parochial interest.
4 Each Council member retains the respect of every other Council member, without exception.
5 Council members come from a range of perspectives, but each member has deep knowledge about some aspect of the organization and/or the environment in which it operates.
6 The Council includes key members of the management team but is not limited to members of the management team, nor is every executive automatically a member.
7 The Council is a standing body, not an ad hoc committee assembled for a specific project.
8 The Council meets periodically, as much as once a week or as infrequently as once per quarter.
9 The Council does not seek consensus, recognizing that consensus decisions are often at odds with intelligent decisions. The responsibility for the final decision remains with the leading executive.
10 The Council is an informal body, not listed on any formal organization chart or any formal documents.
11 The Council can have a range of possible names, usually quite innocuous. In the good-to-great companies, they had benign names like Long-Range Profit Improvement Committee, Corporate Products Committee, Strategic Thinking Group, and Executive Council.



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Laboratory illustrations: Jon Keegan