Review of The Way of the Dog by Geoff Burch – by Phil Auckland

As part of the staff mentoring process that we undertake at Balance, Ashley has recently asked me to read a book called The Way of the Dog by Geoff Burch.  The reason behind this was to try to help me to develop management skills and thinking, rather than just being a number cruncher!

When I started to read the book I was in for a bit of a shock…there were no technical management terms (as I would have expected), in fact the book was written as a story.

The story was about a double glazing salesman called Derek who wasn’t very good at his job.  One day, Derek was magically transformed into a sheepdog!  Derek almost instantly fell into a bad crowd of sheepdogs (in this new world it was every sheepdog for himself)!

The sheepdogs and the farmer treat Derek badly, they bullied Derek and were aggressive towards him.  Derek did not like this, and as a result he didn’t perform his sheepdog duties very well.  The farmer had had enough of Derek’s poor performance and so he tried to shoot Derek.

Derek ran away from the farmer and found a new farmer and a new group of sheepdogs to join.  Derek’s new farmer and sheepdogs treat him well, they were polite and kind to him.  Most importantly, they worked with Derek and encouraged him to learn and improve his sheepdog skills by showing him where he was going wrong and explaining to him how to improve his performance (rather than just shouting at him for doing it wrong).

Sheepdogs - helpful support works wonders

Under the guidance of the new farmer and sheepdogs, Derek soon learnt new skills and became a successful sheepdog, before he magically transformed back into a person, and became a successful double glazing salesman!

This may sound like a bit of a children’s story, but it does help to highlight the following important message:

  • By looking after your people, working and co-operating with your people, and helping and encouraging them to learn and improve, you build better relationships with these people.  This means that everyone is happier, and as a result of this people want to work with one another and help each other – both individual and collective performance improves as a result of this!

Why not take a few minutes now just to think of the practical ways in which you could apply this to your business?

For example, you could:

  • re-analyse the performance of employees, and mentor them to understand what training they want and need to improve – this also helps you to understand what their goals and ambitions are, and you can then set a plan to help them achieve this
  • hold regular team meetings so that employees feel valued and part of the team
  • hold social events or team-building days

Phil Auckland - future management material

Please leave your comments below.

1 Response to “Review of The Way of the Dog by Geoff Burch – by Phil Auckland”


  • All business leaders should take heed of the message in this book. Great teamwork underpins all good businesses.

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