About Foxes and Hedgehogs

February 26, 2013

Professor Charles Hill leads the MAM Cohort in a discussion on Grand Strategy Professor Charles Hill leads the MAM Cohort in a discussion on Grand Strategy This term, with the Master of Advanced Management (MAM) cohort, I’m taking a course designed specifically for our program called the CEO Agenda 2020.  This course is based on the premise that the private sector has assumed an increasingly important role in addressing pressing global challenges and an evolving social contract has shifted expectations for private sector engagement in matters such as global health, development and climate change.  The modern CEO must understand an array of issues that extend far beyond traditional business concerns.

For the first two sessions of the course we had an Introduction to Grand Strategy with both Professor Charles Hill and Professor John Gaddis from Yale.  The first session started with an overview of the different disciplines that compose Grand Strategy – Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities – to connect the dots and break the silos that traditionally encircle each discipline to conceive, execute or analyze Grand Strategies. This class provides new and great insights to world grand strategies, past and present, that enable us to have a holistic view of all the interconnections and the interdependence of the different tactics and strategies applied by humans across time. This course is meant to give us the tools to “see the forest and not just the trees”.

In the following weeks a different guest faculty member/lecturer from outside SOM presents a global challenge/issue.  The class is then asked to “see the forest and not just the trees” to identify opportunities for the private sector to play a positive role in the meeting the global challenge/issue.  The topics that we have and will explore include climate change, humanitarian assistance, the food-water-energy nexus, corruption and development economics.

Among all the interesting concepts taught in Grand Strategy portion of the course I will certainly retain the one referring to foxes and hedgehogs, from Greek poet Archilochus, used as an approach to assess leaders within the scheme of Grand Strategy. Hedgehogs refer to leaders that greatly excel at one single topic/specialty, whereas foxes refer to those that are good in many topics/specialties. Foxes and hedgehogs have both strengths and weakness… Are you a hedgehog or a fox?

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Joan Garces Duran