Ever open to exploring different ways unlocking new learning and insights we recently had the pleasure of facilitating an afternoon’s (2+ hours) team development activity with 1 corporate client, 2 groups of 12 people, 20 sheep, 2 shepherds and no sheep dogs!

We split the people into 2 groups and each had a shepherd and 10, one year old sheep that had never been herded before. The objective of the activity was for the 12 people to work as a team to herd 10 sheep in a (large!) field and get them in to a small pen, with little or no instruction form the shepherd! In the first sheep trial the groups were allowed to move the pen, and once this was ‘known’ the activity was pretty straight forward and successful, about 20-ish minutes to get all 10 sheep in to the pen. The second trial was a little more difficult, this time the pen had to be placed somewhere else in the field, this proved to be much more difficult and in fact after an hour and fifteen both groups had not achieved the task.

Now the shepherds came into their own, with a short instruction session, providing advice and answering questions, the groups were set a third trial, herd the sheep in to a pen, out in the field against the clock, 15 minutes! BUT following the instruction and advice the group Gary was working with at the time managed to get 8 out the 10 sheep in to the pen in 12 minutes, 2 sheep made a sly and last minute successful escape attempt, a massive achievement after trial 2!!!

And so to learning’s and application in the work place: someone has to be a shepherd, others have to be the ‘dog’: plan, communication, team work, belief in the task being achievable and commitment from all to the task at hand, and of course think outside the pen (box!).