Shepherds, sheep and sheepdogs: the perfect business model?

Shepherds, sheep and sheepdogs: the perfect business model?

The image is clear, a Shepherd looking after his flock, dogs by his side, whilst his sheep graze peacefully around him.

On reflection of this image can we find a relevant business model?

Considering the sheep as, with apologies to all sheep for this analogy, the entry level employees, the dogs as the mid-managers and the shepherd as the director of the company, we can now start to bring a model into context.

The shepherd is the controller; he points the flock in the right direction, and uses his dogs to help steer the sheep, using his experience and knowledge to guide him.

The dogs, either by shouts, whistles or hand signals, have to be clear of the intentions of the shepherd in order to assist him to the best of their ability.

The sheep know their job, to eat grass and be happy. In a very autonomous way the sheep wander looking for the best grass in the area assigned by the shepherd; what’s more the shepherd wants them to do this. If the shepherd, or the dogs, had to feed each blade of grass to the sheep it would be a terribly long process. The sheep are allowed to explore to the point the shepherd deems otherwise, due to his experience and knowledge of the area, at which point a dog will move the sheep back on track.

The sheep can also give feedback to the shepherd, bleating when scared or unsure, at which point the shepherd or the dogs will intervene.

As in business there are good and bad shepherds, sheep dogs and of course sheep. If we consider the shepherd who falls asleep, the dogs will not be so diligent and the sheep will wander. In a similar way the shepherd who constantly moves his sheep will tire his dogs and never give his sheep the opportunity to be productive.

If the shepherd is perfect but the dogs do not follow or understand his commands then the sheep will not go in the right direction leading to confusion. And of course, if the dogs treat the sheep badly, operating through fear, the sheep will not be so productive, definitely not fulfilling their objective of eating grass and being happy.

This last comment really comes into context when we consider the products of eating grass and being happy; milk to make cheese and fleece to make wool.

Without the sheep there is no business and therefore no dogs and definitely no shepherds.

From one proud sheep to another,

Keep bleating.

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