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Learned Disobedience

I heard a story the other day about the training of guide dogs.


It seems that they get two levels of training.


The first level of training – in this case for a blind person – is fairly standard stuff though with tighter controls. It is done with both the dog trainers and the person who will use the dog.


For the second level of training the dog experts actually take back the dog from the owner and teach it “intelligent disobedience”. The dog, in essence, learns when NOT to pay attention and take command from their owner.


This makes all the sense in the world when you think about a blind person commanding their dog to move into a street. The dog MUST be able to refuse if it sees a car coming. Without this level of disobedience the dog is much less valuable.


The story got me to wondering what type of training do we provide our own people in our firms? Do we just teach them to do what they are told regardless? Or do we teach them to be aware of their surroundings and push back when they see a problem. To, in essence, not do what we ask them to do.


I talk to a few Managers who lament that their people “just don’t do what they are told”. But this is exactly what you don’t want.


You need people to notice problems and push back. That is where you get better results.


Maybe we should all take some wisdom from these dog trainers and help our people get better at disobedience.

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