No sheep here

If you put fences around people, you get sheep.  Give people the room they need.” – James Collins and Jerry Porras, citing a 3M phrase

My thanks to Kenneth Thomas for citing this quote in his book, Intrinsic Motivation at Work: What Really Drives Employee Engagement. Too often in our fervor to make our expectations clear we rob people of their freedom of motion and of thought.  Think of this quote the next time you pile even one more, “You must…” upon your team.

After spending eight days closely monitoring a 2-year-old who wasn’t permitted to leave his hospital bed, I can relate to the sheep watching their fences go up all around them.

At the same time I’m returning to work tomorrow from three full weeks of absence (two planned for vacation and one added on for the above mentioned hospital stay) feeling energized to see what the Guiding Coalition teams have done with the room I gave them when I left. There should be no sheep there.  If I am the shepherd, I’ve been gone too long to have constrained anything. [Note: I’m actually feeling very bad for how long I’ve been gone.  The weeks seem as decades.]

Right now we’re winding down more than a year’s worth of effort and launching new projects.  We’ve never run an overlap of efforts before and I’m excited to see what the seven teams have accomplished (with three closing out their work and four starting up).

As I’m never one to slow down during down times, in the weeks I was gone I read seven books and filled my head with many things to write about on this blog.  Now if only I could get all the laundry and camping gear and miscellaneous things put away from our trip, finally clear the pile of mail off of my desk, and then concentrate. Then I would be happy.

Thank you for sticking with me through the vacation and the forced seclusion.  I’m looking forward to a fall season full of posts and conversations.  As always, if you’re wondering about something specific, post a comment and we’ll see what I can do.  Hilbert is the only one who took me up on my challenge while I was gone.  He asked for a review of Daniel Pink’s Drive.  Look for that in the coming months.

Have a fabulous week!

2 thoughts on “No sheep here”

  1. Ralph – Thanks for the comment. I totally agree. I’m working on a piece about that exact problem: being unaware of how close to disaster you are and what you can do to regain your healthy awareness of the difference between danger and safety. I’ll be very curious to get your thoughts on it when I’m done.

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