Second, in order to be great, we must apply the Hedgehog Concept.
The Hedgehog Concept derives from an ancient Greek poem attributed to Archilochus of Paros which loosely translated says, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog just one big thing." In other words, the fox is scattered, diffuse, distracted. In contrast, the hedgehog simplifies the complexities of the world into a single unifying principle that guides all of its activity. Focused, determined, relentless.
Great organizations are disciplined in thought and action as they define the intersection of these circles and stay focused on it. This has been our biggest challenge. The temptation in philanthropy is to take on many things because they will do some good. In looking at the three circles comprising the Hedgehog Concept, we know that we are passionate about helping Americans live healthier lives. We know, too, that we do well training leaders in health care, incubating innovative models to deliver needed services to vulnerable populations, creating the evidence and advocacy that can drive policy change, and identifying the important areas that have the potential to transform the health of the people we serve. Our resource engine is not the generation of revenue but rather the combined power of our financial assets and the intellect of our staff and grantees, from which our good reputation derives. Mastering the Hedgehog Concept is more difficult than depicting it, but I think we are making progress.
The Foundation's Impact Framework helps us stay focused on those things we do best. It groups our work into four different portfolios, sets goals, and assigns resources to each portfolio.
- By putting all the training and fellowship programs together in the Human Capital Portfolio and charging a group of staff members to think about workforce needs in health care, we stay focused on creating health care leaders—whether they be community health leaders, policy research leaders, or national leaders.
- The Vulnerable Populations Portfolio focuses on incubating innovative models to deliver care to the elderly, new immigrants, teenage mothers and their children, the chronically homeless, and others who are often marginalized or forgotten.
- The Targeted Portfolio takes a few areas such as quality, childhood obesity, public health infrastructure, and health care disparities, among others, and applies our ability to build an evidence base and to use it to advocate for the changes that will help Americans live healthier lives.
- Finally, the Pioneer Portfolio drives us toward continually incubating innovation.