Ann Marie and I recently completed the strategic planning process for AMM Communications.  We consider ourselves both fortunate and ahead of the curve from most start-up companies because we had the resources to work with a consultant to develop the strategic plan for our company early in our history.  Most companies that I know usually undertake the strategic planning process 10-12 years into their existence.

One of the key components of our strategic plan was to define, “what drives our economic engine,” in other words, what can our St. Louis-based public relations firm be the best at give n the current economic climate and increased competition in our space?  For this part of the plan, we developed our own “Three Circles” strategy diagram outlining where our greatest strengths exist in terms of passion. what we can be the best at, and our resource engine (i.e. source of sustainable revenue.  This “Hedgehog Concept” is based on the book “Good to Great” written by Jim Collins.

In 2001, Jim Collins wrote an article for Fast Company discussing the concepts behind “Good to Great”


Here is an excerpt from the article in Fast Company:

You’ll know that you’re getting closer to your Hedgehog Concept when you align three intersecting circles that represent three pivotal questions: What can we be the best in the world at? (And equally important—what can we not be the best at?) What is the economic denominator that best drives our economic engine (profit or cash flow per “x”)? And what are our core people deeply passionate about? Answer those three questions honestly, facing the brutal facts without blinking, and you’ll begin to see your Hedgehog Concept emerge.

In the case of AMM Communications, we know that we cannot compete directly against our larger competitors in all areas of public relations or marketing, however we can carve out a niche for ourselves that allows us to be the best choice for specific industries: financial institutions, professional service firms, and manufacturing companies.  

This was not a simple exercise and it took several meetings to hammer out our three circles, but we found it worthwhile, because identifying our area of maximum impact allows us to be more targeted in the type of business we pursue and the areas of business that we cannot be the best at.

If you are planning to do strategic planning on your own or with a consultant, I highly recommend that you give some thought to the Hedgehog Concept as well!

Founded in 2008, AMM Communications is a St. Louis-based public relations and marketing firm that provides public relations, marketing, crisis communication, social media and sales management training for small- and mid-sized financial institutions, professional service firms and manufacturing companies. For more information, please navigate to or call 314.485.9499.