Herding sheep versus shepherding

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In his book: Leading Self-Directed Work Teams, Kimball Fisher’s comparison between sheep herding and shepherding presents an interesting metaphor for a traditional Project Manager versus a Scrum Master.

The purpose of the sheep dog is to move sheep from A to B. Focusing on the flock itself, it achieves this by directing the flock from behind using barking and heel-nipping. Through this behavior the sheep become dependent on the sheep dog. A sheep herder drives a subordinate flock. Sound familiar?

In contrast, a shepherd develops a relationship of trust with the sheep. From out in front of the flock, the shepherd focuses on the surroundings and clears a path for the sheep to get safely from A to B. A shepherd leads as an example and is constantly on the look-out for dangers in the environment.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker
Simon Baker is chief swashbuckler at Energized Work, a guerrilla technology lab based onboard HMS President in London. Simon cofounded Energized Work and in 2009 received the Agile Alliance Gordon Pask Award. He speaks internationally about applying agile and lean principles and techniques in business, software development, and information technology. With 22 years experience delivering software in the media, retail, healthcare, financial services and banking sectors, Simon is a leader doing things differently to find out what matters and get the right things done in the right way. He isn't afraid to question conventional thinking and disrupt the status quo. Simon feels strongly that work shouldn't feel like work and he has a track record creating exciting working conditions that help people change the way they deliver software for the better.

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