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a blog by Chris Barrow

An analogy of how organisations work

There are two main types of people in an organisation Sheep Wolves The sheep want answers: What is the exit strategy from BKH in 10 years from now? What are the cash flows? What is the organisational structure? What is the plan? Where do I fit in? Do I get a pension? Is there medical insurance? How will the shares be structured? What is the expenses policy? Will we be taking a holiday on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee? How many hours am I contracted to work? What exactly is my title and job description? What percentage will I get? What car will I drive? What happens if Al decides to bugger off back to Canada? Why do you think you can make a success of a private corporate when so many others have failed? The questions go on and on… Some sheep want to partner with us. Some sheep want to work for us. We need them and we need to understand them. Then there are the wolves: They just want to run with the pack They have one question: “When do I start?” Some wolves want to partner with us. Some wolves want to work for us. When we are 500-strong we can’t all be wolves. There have to be rules and regulations for the sheep, that’s how they feel secure, standing in a crowded pen, watched over by the shepherd and corralled by the sheep dogs. It’s sometimes called Head Office and the danger is that HO becomes a business prevention unit. God forbid we ever create that. We want our sheep and our wolves to respect each other’s skillset and to do everything in line with The Culture. We want the planned HO of BKH in Manchester to a place where profitable and ethical business is supported not held back. If an organisation, our organsiation, your organisation is to prosper, innovate, invent, inspire… …there has to be huge space for the wolves – a place to run free, to howl at the moon, to scent and hunt. Sheep issuing emails and directives to say “don’t kill the farmers’ chickens” is fair enough – that’s ethical and creates a stable company with a highly respected brand – the farmers don’t get their guns out. But sheep issuing emails and directives to tell the wolves they cannot hunt will kill a company. At BKH, like you, we will need shepherds, sheep dogs and sheep – but don’t ask Al and I to be shepherds – we can’t do that stuff – we are wolves. Al and Chris lead the pack, run the fastest, the longest, the furthest and the hardest – howl the loudest – find, hunt and eat the kill first but then make sure the pack gets fed – and there is still plenty left for the sheep. It’s the same for you in a small or large practice: sheep and wolves. The sheep need to be secure and the wolves need to be regulated (we do get carried away with all this howling). Hands up if you are a wolf – we want to talk to you! Hands up if you are a shepherd – we want to talk to you as well! Please pass some forms out to the sheep for them to fill in indicating their preferences for which hand they would prefer to raise, how far, for how long and when. Howl!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Post-script Quiz question: which is more dangerous in an organisation a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

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