Vail Daily column: When good isn’t good enough |

Vail Daily column: When good isn’t good enough

The Denver Broncos and head coach John Fox recently “mutually” parted ways after four successful years together. It’s a hard reality — essentially being fired after four straight division championships and just one season removed from a Super Bowl berth. As a fan, I appreciate an uncompromising drive toward being the best and recognize that this drive toward being the best requires tough decisions.

After all, in sports as in business, sometimes good isn’t good enough.

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t,” shares the thought that “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”


Jim Collins outlines this in “Good to Great” with the Hedgehog Concept. Based on an ancient Greek parable that states, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing,” the Hedgehog Concept is based on the premise that foxes are shrewd animals that pursue many goals and interests at the same time. Due to this wide variety of interests and strategies, their thinking is scattered and unfocused and they are limited in what they can achieve in the long run. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, do one thing and do it very well. They are focused on self-preservation and thus their thinking is singularly focused and concentrated on doing one thing well.

From this parable is born the Hedgehog Concept, consisting of three overlapping circles: What lights your fire (“passion”)? What could you be best in the world at (“best at”)? What makes you money (“driving resource”)? Organizations find their successful strategy, called the Hedgehog Concept, at the intersection where all three of these questions overlap.

Coach John Fox, ironically, plays the role of fox to John Elway’s hedgehog in this parable. The Broncos, much like a hedgehog, focus on only one thing (winning Super Bowls) and execute it superbly again and again (think 1997 and 1998, or more recently to the New England Patriots and possibly the Seattle Seahawks), whereas the fox (coach John) tries lots of tricks and traps (changing offensive philosophies, failing to “show up” consistently for big games), but fails to defeat the opponent.


Here in the Vail Valley, we too should remember that good isn’t good enough, adopting a similar mindset as the Denver Broncos and firing their coach after four successful seasons.

We are fortunate to have incredible ski mountains that draw visitors from around the world; we are equally fortunate to be home to events such as the upcoming 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which spotlight our community to the world.

Event organizers promised the world a two-week celebration both on and off the racecourse from the outset of planning and bid process for this event. However, we still need to make the conscious choice, despite all our earned accolades, to be great. Let’s not become a fox and get distracted by these upcoming events and forget the overall goal of providing our visitors with an incredible mountain experience.

Recall the general premise of the Hedgehog Concept: What lights your fire (“passion”)? What could you be best in the world at (“best at”)? What makes you money (“driving resource”)? And also recall Collins’ claim that organizations find their successful strategy at the intersection where all three of these questions overlap.

We are ready to welcome the world and showcase our community to both our visitors and to television audiences around the world. Much like the Denver Broncos being singularly focused on winning the Super Bowl, it is important for us to keep in mind the Hedgehog Concept during the next few weeks and remain singularly focused on providing the very best vacation experience for our visitors and to live up to the event tagline of “Dream It, Live It, Share It.”

Chris Romer is the president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.

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