Life outside the fences

In organizations there are often only two groups of people; the sheep and the wolves.

The sheep are the people fenced in by their boss’ orders and their job descriptions, held fast in their pens by the roving wolves who are ready to bite at the ankles of any sheep that tries to do something before being asked or ventures out away from their narrow role in the organization.

From a sheep’s perspective, all those other people in the organization that are not in fences must be wolves.  Though the sheep have encountered some wolves kinder than others, they can’t recall anyone outside the fences who wasn’t trying to control the sheep for their own gain.

What do you get in an organization full of sheep and wolves when you introduce people who are driving change?

Driving change: choosing a change for yourself and clearing the obstacles for others to internally choose the change too.

The sudden creation of a third group of people: sheep dogs.

The sheep dogs don’t want to hurt the sheep; they want the sheep to flourish.

The sheep dogs aren’t on the side of the wolves; they want the wolves held a bay.

The sheep dogs are those people in the organization wandering outside the fences of their boss’ orders and their narrow job descriptions, but instead of driving the sheep to change, they are clearing the way for others to choose a life outside of the fences too.

If you are a sheep dog, your problem, as you are introduced into a traditionally sheep-versus-wolf organization, is that both the sheep and the wolves immediately assume you are a wolf.

What else could you be? You are outside the fences.

Why else would you have left the fences except to gain power over others and inflict your will upon them?

Is there any other reason?

Yes, there is.

Driving change is about stepping out of your fence because the organization needs it, you feel it, and you can do it.

Driving change requires you to be outside the fences with the wolves but requires that you resist any urge to  exercise your will over others.

Instead you must direct all your energy to exercising your will over yourself, getting yourself moving first, then creating movement in the sheep and the wolves by your example and your commitment to them and the organization.

Be a sheep dog.

Drive change.

Why not try?

Fun note: Watch the movie “Babe” for a visual example of a sheep-versus-wolves organization transformed through an ultimate driving change sheep dog (okay, sheep pig).

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5 thoughts on “Life outside the fences

  • February 9, 2011 at 8:53 am
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    That’s an amazingly vivid analogy. I love it!

    Question: What do you do with a sheep who refuses to do anything more than eat grass and poop because it’s not part of their “position description?” I get so frustrated when I clear a path, provide a vision and then the person won’t budge because they believe the path ahead is above or below their pay grade. Maybe we should call those people sacrificial lambs 🙂

  • February 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm
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    April… YOU ROCK! What an excellent analogy. This ol’ sheep dog could use some more sheep dogs in the mix, that’s for sure. Very inspiring post- Thank you. 🙂

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