Hedgehog concept in the golf industry

By: May 22, 2013

Currently I am studying business process improvement at the University of British Columbia as part of the Web intelligence course (totally online course). One of our text books is Jim Collins' Good to Great book (the other is Business Process Change from Paul Harmon). 

Hereby I would like to share with your my reservations regarding Collins' Hedgehog concept and other theories from the book. Despite of my reservations regarding the theory, I think golf course owners should consider these ideas.

Collins says by placing the emphasis on people before strategy, it allows companies to adapt more easily to change.  In a time when change has never been as lightning fast, this has never been as important as it is today.  Second, if you make sure you have the right people on the bus in the first place, many human resource problems simply fade away. 

My questions:

  • How do you know who has the right character attributes?  Collins does not give an answer to this, but with the use of technologies based on the Hartman Value Profile and the science of axiology, we can find it out.
  • Hire for talent and train for skills: I have a doubt about putting greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, work experience etc. It is true that you have to find someone with whom you can work easily.

While I phrased these questions, additional qualms came to my mind. How company can avoid to lay off people with right character in recession? How many company can afford to keep their best employees despite of these people's headcount costs….Do we have time and resources to train people for the required skills in every circumstance? My experience is that employers expect from eployees to be disciplined (this merit is mentioned also in Collins' book) and capable to work independently. However this assumes that you have the required knoweldge and experience for your position.


First who then what

Just as a reminder for those who might not read my post on Golf Salary & Benefits in 2010. The study of Colt Mackenzie McNair and Club Managers Association of Europe found that:

  • A degree-level education or professional qualification was not a prerequisite of a senior role and only 50% had either of these. Jerry Kilby part time CEO of CMAE says "no such qualifications existed prior to the CMAE launching the European CCM (Certified Club Manager) programme in 2008."
  • On average, over 90% of golf clubs perceived a need for training staff. Scandinavian golf courses received much more trainings than their British partners. To the best of my knowledge it is not always the golf course managers decision how much they spend on training, but rather the owners' decision.

As we can see professional knowledge, experience and skills are important. The right character should be found by the Hartman Value Profile and the science of axiology or consider it as a bonus (beyond relevant experience, knowledge and skills).