Seth Shears Sheepwalking

Seth Godin blogs about ‘sheepwalking,’ which he calls the “outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them a braindead job and enough fear to keep them in line.”

He mentions Google, not in the good way: “I was at a Google conference last month, and I spent some time in a room filled with (pretty newly minuted) Google salesreps. I talked to a few of them for a while about the state of the industry. And it broke my heart to discover that they were sheepwalking.”

Now I can’t really comment one way or another on the conversations that Seth had with my fellow Googlers, but it resonated with me from a hiring discussion I had last year. My concern was with “blockers and tacklers” – those who do the job but are unlikely to write new plays into the playbook.

If a company finds itself hiring more “B&Ts” (which I’ll generously define as people who are quite capable of doing their job but not interested in changing the status quo) at the very least it should hire some freaks at the fringes. I figure I’ve got two strategies at Google – either I can try to push us to not hire B&Ts or I can campaign to take risks with folks who will help us continue to push the boundaries. I’m kind of doing both but informally via my own interview feedback on candidates.

One thought on “Seth Shears Sheepwalking

  1. I saw the same thing happen at Y! in 1999. Lots of people who wanted to keep their heads down and vest.It’s a bad, bad thing. You need troublemakers. You need to reward risk taking (even when the risks don’t work out).If people are scared to take risks then innovation will stagnate.

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