Who Thinks Wrong? 

There are five types of people in organizations who need to understand thinking wrong, and we’ve come to think of them as characters from the Wild West. Watch the video and read descriptions below to learn more.



The innovators and disruptors who crave open space to explore new possibilities. Outlaws don’t want to abide by the cultural norms of their organization. They are happy taking risks and being perceived as outsiders operating on the edge.

Thinking wrong matters to Outlaws.

It helps them ride beyond the status quo and defend themselves against ambushes and angry mobs.


The caretakers who protect Outlaws from those bent on stopping them. Shepherds provide Outlaws with the cover they need to explore, discover, and succeed. Shepherds also help get the products and services that Outlaws create to market without upending the rest of their organization.

Thinking wrong matters to Shepherds.

It helps them lead and manage Outlaws—and keeps them from stringing up emerging solutions before they’ve had a chance to develop.


The guides who help Shepherds and Outlaws navigate treacherous, uncharted paths, manage camps, and locate resources needed for these arduous journeys. Scouts lack ego, toil tirelessly, and go the extra mile to ensure fruitful explorations. They are often hired for their unique experience and knowledge of new territories.

Thinking wrong matters to Scouts.
It helps them chart the most rewarding course and pack the right equipment and provisions for the adventure.


The peace officers who enforce law and order within their organizations. Sheriffs make sure everything runs according to plan, that rules are followed, and that rabble-rousers are locked up or run out of town.

Thinking wrong matters to Sheriffs.
It helps them demarcate the territories where Wrong Thinking is permitted and where Right Thinking is a must. Sheriffs are happy to enforce the right laws in the right places for the right reasons. 


Most citizens in an organization want a peaceful life. They will follow the rules in order to fit in and reap the benefits of doing the right thing. They respond to the hue and cry and can be deputized to enforce the norms of their organizations, communities, or countries.

Thinking wrong matters to Posses.
It clarifies the rightness of their efforts to keep things running well while helping them understand—and even support—the actions of Outlaws who are making out the next territory for them to settle.

Which role is the most important?

Trick question.
Sheriffs, Outlaws, Shepherds, Scouts, and Posse members can all work harmoniously on a project when you structure their involvement with intention. The importance of each role will shift as you move through what we call Hot Zones.

Zone 1: Define
Formulate & Incubate

When conceiving of ideas and imagining possibilities, bring in Outlaws who will disrupt the status quo, and are comfortable with operating in an unfamiliar territory. Shepherds and Scouts will communicate between all parties, protect the work of the Outlaws, and ask for resources when needed.

Zone 2: Develop
Accelerate & Operate

As your idea progresses and builds momentum, Sheriffs and Posse members should be brought in to run things smoothly and reliably to accelerate learning, understanding of need, and time to impact.

Zone 3: Dominate
Grow & Elevate

When your team is ready to focus on scaling your idea and exploring strategic and portfolio fit, Sheriffs and Posses will take the lead, though all of the Think Wrong Roles will have valuable insight. When everyone feels ownership over the process, you’ll face fewer roadblocks in the work you’re trying to accomplish together.


Ready to think wrong with your team?