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Overplaying Your Hand, Krimpvarkies and The Move

Updated: Apr 4

I recently played in a Poker tournament with some business network colleagues. And, true to form, I lost my whole stack in the first hand, bought in twice, and lost it all pretty quickly. I just don’t have the patience for it.  


My wife, on the other hand, killed it and made it to the very last round. She has both the patience, cunning and… dare I say it… the poker face to make it big in the pros.  


Made me think.   


Leadership guru Jim Collins has made some strong points over the years. The value of consistency, of sticking to your guns, of not getting excited, are all hallmarks of his work. Slow and steady wins the race, he even has a name for it: The Hedgehog Concept. I had to look up the name, in South Africa we call them a porcupine. Or, in my tongue: A Krimpvarkie.   


And Collins makes a great point about understanding what you’re good at, and then consistently doing that. And, if you must, build your future successes on top of that consistent move. In fact, the Springboks did that very thing in the World Cup 2019 final. They even called it “The Move”, an atypical use of their powerful reserve forwards at a critical time in the game. How did Rassie know how to do that? Well, I reckon Jim Collins gave him the clue in a dream… (as per an extract from my new book, the Bomb Squad OS):  


“I haven’t seen you before,” said the Coach. “But let me guess. American?”  


The silver-haired man smiled. He was tanned and athletic, but clearly older than the coach. “Dead right, Coach.” He gave a chuckle. “And just so you know… I am also still very much around. Are these rugby posts? More of an American football fan myself.”  


The Coach frowned, and said: “Yeah, I never could understand your game. So what’s your name, and what are you here to teach me? Are you also a business leader, or a guy that wrote a book?”    


The American man smiled. “I wrote a few, actually. And I suppose you could say I’m a business leader. But I think of myself more as a teacher. I used to lecture at Stanford, in fact.”  


The Coach had heard of the famous American University. “Ok, so why are you here? And what’s your name?”  


“Name’s Jim,” said the man, and stuck out his hand. The coach tried to shake it, but their hands passed through each other. Jim laughed. “Freaky. Now I know it’s a dream.” He pondered The Coach’s other question.  


“Why am I here? Well, you tell me. What is it that you’re struggling with?”  


The Coach thought about it. “Look, I have a good team. And we have some momentum. But it feels to me like we’re vulnerable in certain areas. And I don’t have the time to develop the systems or talent to make up for those shortcomings.”  


Jim cocked his head. “OK, so you don’t have time. Why not?”  


“The World Cup is just 10 months away. We play a certain way, and people always say we don’t have a plan B. And we don’t. I want to develop our game plan, but I need to work with what I have in the meantime.”  


“Do you have the right people on the bus right now for Plan A? And do you have them sitting in the right seats?”   


The Coach thought about it. “I do. Mostly, I suppose. I have some wonderfully versatile players too. It feels like I need to work out more options though…”  


Jim shook his head. “Let’s stay focused. What does your Plan A look like? Does it work?”  


“Well yes,” said the Coach. “When we execute it. We have certain strengths and a way of playing that already won us two World Cups. People are always criticizing it though, they say it’s not entertaining enough.” He paused. “It’s bullshit, though. Most other teams revert to a tighter game like we do when it comes to the playoffs.”  


“Sounds like you have your Hedgehog right there,” said Jim.  


“Say what?” asked the Coach.  


“Hedgehog. Oh wait. You probably don’t have those in Africa. It’s a small furry animal with spikes for protection.”  


The Coach gave a big smile. “We have those! But we call them Krimpvarkies.”  


“What an excellent name,” smiled Jim. “Ok, so this is how the saying goes: ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’ That is to say, the hedgehog doesn’t run. He doesn’t climb trees. The Hedgehog – the krimpvarkie, as you call him – curls up into a spiky ball, and the fox can’t penetrate that shield, so goes away. He has one move, and he does it better than anyone else in the world. So, Coach? What is your Hedgehog?’  


“Well, it’s got to be our forwards. We have always had some of the greatest depth in the world, especially when it comes to the big men up front,” replied the Coach. He stopped, deep in thought. “What if we took it to an insane level… and…” he turned to Jim.  


The American had disappeared.   


“What a teacher,” thought the Coach. He woke up, and sat bolt upright. “That’s it. What I need is more of what we are strong at. A whole new pack of forwards!”  

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