Sheepwalking

17 01 2009

Sheep aren’t particularly clever animals. They gain safety in their herd as they have no means of self protection and spend most of their day ambling from one bit of grass to another.

Seth Godin coined the phrase sheepwalking to describe this sort of behaviour in our work places. A placid acceptance of the way things are, recognising that stepping out of the herd is both dangerous and unlikely to be successful such that following each other around, almost aimlessly, will get the job done to a moderate degree of satisfaction all round.

Shepherds (and managers) like this sort of behaviour as they know that if they leave the sheep out on the moors one day and comes back the next, the sheep won’t have gone far but will have achieved what they needed to have done. If a sheep wanders out of the herd either the herd bring it back in or the shepherd and a bit of implied threat from a sheepdog restore normality. Occasionally the sheep are rounded up and directed on to a new task or better pastures. When the weather is particularly bad the shepherd brings the sheep in and make sure his flock are protected.

It’s not compulsory you know?

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