The Hedgehog Good to Great Dental Practice

mm Written by Andrew Sedler


"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." 

In a previous article, The Good To Great Dental Practice focused on an overview of some good to great concepts, targeting the principles of a level 5 leader. This week I will explore another of the seven good to great principles: The Hedgehog Concept. The "Hedgehog Concept” is: focusing on your company’s core purpose, your sweet spot. The concept is based on an ancient Greek parable that states: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

The One Big Thing concept directs the focus of a business to maximize success in fewer areas, rather than nominal success in many areas. It is so easy to try to be a people-pleaser, attempting to be everything to everyone, but the possibility that you can please everyone is an illusion. The theme of focusing on "one thing” is carried throughout virtually all books on successful business development, such as the following:

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

In the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Sean Covey talks about the importance of "landing one plane at a time”: the concept that you can only do one thing WITH EXCELLENCE at a time. Air traffic controllers have many planes assigned to them, but they can only land one plane at a time.

The One Thing - Gary Keller

Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus. -Gary Keller, author of The One Thing.

The book opens with a Russian proverb, thus: “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” Meaning is simple: Focus on one thing to achieve success.

Good to Great - Ebook Winners at Burbank Dental Lab


Sepideh Moeinolmolki, DDS - Nu Smile
Virginia L. McMillan - John Day Smiles
Dr. Mark C. LeMonnier, DDS - Ballenger Creek Dental Associates
Matthew De La Rionda, DDS - Cosmetic Dentist

Sepideh Moeinolmoki, DDS
Nu Smile Dental Center

Virginia L. McMillan, DDS, PC
John Day Smiles

Mark C. LeMonnier, DDS
Ballenger Creek Dental Associates

Matthew De La Rionda, DDS
Yucca Valley Dental Group

Hedgehog Concept: Where the 3 core strengths of your practice overlap.

The Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of three factors. It is more than a strategy, it is an understanding. Good-to-great companies set their goals and strategies based on understanding; comparison companies set their goals and strategies based on intuition, ego, and shooting from the hip. Understanding is gained by evaluating and honestly looking at the brutal facts. This means confronting your personal or practice demons. It may be forcing you to look at solutions that you previously avoided. The level 5 leader gets out of the way of the facts, looks for the truth and adjusts to it. You must engage and empower your team, your patients, and your mentors, in order to gain the understanding of what your practice is, and needs to be.
The good to great companies are more like hedgehogs; they know "one big thing" and stick to it. The comparison companies are more like foxes; they know many things but lack consistency. Hedgehogs, however, are slow and steady, and people often overlook them because they're quiet and unassuming. But, unlike the fox, they are able to simplify the world and focus on one overarching vision. It's this principle that guides everything they do and helps them succeed against all odds.

Take These 3 Assessments

An organization can find its "Hedgehog Concept" by making three separate assessments:

  • First, it can understand what its people are genuinely passionate about.
  • Second, it can identify what it does better than anyone else.
  • Third, it can determine where it's good at generating revenue.
The right way forward is where all three answers intersect, and it's this central position that is the "sweet spot" for the organization's strategy.
Hedgehog Concept
Burbank Dental Lab
Burbank Dental Lab Implant Success Guide


Burbank Dental Lab

3 Assessments to Finding Your One Big Thing

Dentists fans of Burbank Dental Lab

Step 1: Understanding Your Passions

What are you deeply passionate about? The good-to-great companies focus on those activities that ignite their passion. The idea here is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate.

If a company has passion, then it could be a powerhouse. If you can’t believe, how will the customers? 
In many practices, this might be your mission statement. However, through the process of discovering your Hedgehog, you may have to revise your core purpose or practice mission.
Dentist with patient

Step 2: Understanding What You Can Be Best At

This is an intentional commitment and focus. This goes far beyond core competence. A core competency does not guarantee that you can be the best in the world at it. Conversely, what you can be the best at, might not even be something in which you are currently engaged. This concept also means making a decision NOT to participate in many activities.  

Step 3: Understand Your Economic Engine - Burbank Dental Lab

Step 3: Understanding Your Economic Engine

Good-to-great companies discover a single driving focus which has the greatest impact on their economies. Economic success is imperative. If you are passionate and the best in the world, yet are not economically sustainable then you won't be doing it for very long.

To have a sound economic engine, your practice must fully understand how to generate sustained cash flow and profitability. This insight should be expressed in limited activities that are measured and that can have the greatest and most sustainable impact on the organization's long-term success.
Step 3: Evaluate your strategies and overlapping areas as a dentist.

Step 4: Evaluate the overlapping areas and review your strategies. Develop an understanding of the sweet spot where all three area overlap. Then focus on the overlapping area - that is the Hedgehog concept of your practice.

Strategy did not separate the good-to-great companies from the comparison companies. Both groups had strategies, and there is no evidence that the good-to-great companies spent more time on strategic planning than the comparison companies. Developing your hedgehog ultimately leads to clarity with your team, yourself, and your patients. That clarity translates into focus; the focus on what to do and who you are is what makes your practice GREAT. Your focus tells you what does not contribute to your journey from good to great; you must limit or eliminate your energies in those areas. 

Burbank Dental Lab

The Hedgehog Dental Practice

Understand that developing your Hedgehog concept is not a linear process. Formulating your Hedgehog circle takes time, experimenting, testing, researching, and receiving mentoring. Don’t expect one pass to be enough to discover it. In fact, each of the three circles can take some time to complete. In Good to GreatCollins notes that it took four years on average for the good-to-great companies to get a Hedgehog Concept.

What are you passionate about?

 • Discover what makes you passionate again.

 • What can your team be passionate about?

You may already have discovered what you are deeply passionate about. For example, you may be passionate about:

    • Restorative dentistry using implant restorations
    • Treating sleep apnea

    • Smile makeovers employing ceramic veneers.

Your passion does not have to be treatment centric; you may be passionate about:

    • Developing your team into the best patient communicators
    • Creating an environment where your patients feel part of your family
    • Helping working families by providing appointment times nights and weekends
Burbank Dental Lab
Burbank Dental Lab - Best Dentist 2018

What can you be the best in the world at?

  • Skills

    What skills have you and your team mastered?

  • Identity of your Practice

    What is something about your dental practice identity that is unique in your community, your region, the world?

  • Atmosphere

    What atmosphere can you deliver that is uniquely yours and is the best in the world, your region, or community?

  • All-On-4® Dental Implant Restorations

    Is your practice the best in your region at providing All-On-4® dental implant restorations?

  • Inviting Environment

    Can you become the best at creating a comfortable, inviting environment for your patients?  

  • Financing Options

    Are you the best at creating financing options for your patients?

  • Maximizing Insurance Benefits & Budgets

    Is your practice the best at maximizing insurance benefits and working within patients' budgets? 

  • Maximizes Treatment Plan

    Is your team the best at creating an environment that maximizes treatment plan acceptance?

  • Best At Same-Day Dental Resotorations

    Are you the best at an aspect of digital dentistry, like same-day dental restorations?

  • Expertise

    Are you an expert using a dental Intro Oral Scanner (IOS) like Itero, 3M TrueDefinition, 3Shape Trios, PlanScan, CareStream CS-3600, or Cerec?

  • Partner with A Dental Lab

    Do you have a dental lab that is dedicated to creating world-class dental restorations reliably and predictably?

Don’t assume you know your competitive difference. When business leaders are asked why people choose them, their answers don’t always match client answers. Involve your patients and team to discover your practices’ strengths and weaknesses.

What can be economically viable? What is your market?

  • What is the economic status of your local community?
  • How can you position your practice to match your market?
  • Is your market a cosmetically driven "Hollywood Smile" market or more budget and functionally driven?

Who are your potential patients? What is your geographical reach?

Are you strictly oriented to your local community or do you reach or desire to reach regionally or even internationally?

What are the social status and values of your target patients? Do you have a definition of your ideal target patient?

  • What is your business model? Is it a 5-star service atmosphere that sees one or two full mouth rehabilitation patients a day at a premium fee, or is it oriented to higher volume and lower fees, maybe catering to patients with insurance coverage or payment plans?
  • Will you self-finance or use a healthcare payment system like CareCredit?
  • Do you promote doctor time with your patients and charge for it, or do you delegate and get more volume with a higher margin?

What services are your most profitable?

  • Do you offer same-day restorations milled in-house on a Cerec or Planmeca PlanMill?
  • Are single tooth dental implant restorations your profit center?
  • Do you offer Direct Composites, which could be very profitable for you and cost-effective for your patients?

There are many avenues available to today’s dental practice. So the question then becomes, how do you identify your practice’s core area and give it your full attention? You have to ask the right questions. You must "Confront the Brutal Facts.”

It is crucial to keep applying the Hedgehog Concept; it means that you reinvent your practice and yourself to refine your hedgehog and adapt your three circles to stay current as dentistry evolves and changes. This is an ongoing process and not about arriving at a destination. Keep looking at your circles and your sweet spot; if one of your circles is not working for your practice, evaluate it and realign as needed. Keep your eye on the sweet spot and measure your results.

If you are on the journey from good to great, you can depend on Burbank Dental Lab to be a great partner, providing you with world-class dental restorations and making our vast experience in the dental industry available for your practices’ benefit.

Did you like this article?

Let us know by giving us a clap!

Top 10 Most Clapped Articles

Resource Center


Slide 1

of the future
is here!

Burbank Dental Lab has three new state-of-the-art Carbon M2 printers. We are very excited about the options that these cutting-edge printers will allow us to offer our dental clients. Here are some of the advantages that these printers will begin to deliver to you and your dental practice.

Our New
3d Printers

Carbon offers a highly dependable 3D manufacturing solution for many dental applications with its breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis™ technology, enabled by a wide range of dental materials.

of the future
is here!

Burbank Dental Lab has three new state-of-the-art Carbon M2 printers. We are very excited about the options that these cutting-edge printers will allow us to offer our dental clients. Here are some of the advantages that these printers will begin to deliver to you and your dental practice.

Our New
3d Printers

Carbon offers a highly dependable 3D manufacturing solution for many dental applications with its breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis™ technology, enabled by a wide range of dental materials.