If I Ran the Zoo ~ A Whimsical Look at Leadership

When my boys were little, one my favorite things to do was to read stories to them at bedtime.  A well-loved story was Dr Seuss’ “If I Ran the Zoo”.  Basically, it is about a little boy, Gerald McGrew, who decides that the animals he sees in the Zoo are too ordinary and he begins to imagine what it might be like if he ran the Zoo instead.  I’m not sure what started me thinking about it but a whimsical mood has led me to creating my own version of “If I Ran the Zoo”.  So, with apologies to Dr Seuss, here it is:


If I ran the zoo, I’d begin with the view,

That my organization includes you, and you.

All manner of folk, both women and men,

All shapes and sizes; all cultures and then…

I’d paint a big picture up there on the wall,

A picture so clear it would dazzle, enthrall,

All those wonderful folk with their heads full of notions

Who want to commit with their hearts and emotions.

If I ran the zoo, I would see to it, too,

What’s important to me is important to you.

And just to be sure, I’d turn it around,

So things that you value, with me, would resound.

Then we’d roll up our sleeves and get down to work,

With genuine effort…no one would shirk.

With good conversations and tough ones as well,

There’d be no need to shout or to curse or to yell.

If I ran the zoo, there’d be elephants too,

But not in the room ‘cuz between me and you,

A room with an elephant’s crowded I think,

(And after a while, the room starts to stink).

And speaking of animals, there’d be “octopi”,

With tentacles reaching way up to the sky,

Crossing all kinds of boundaries, and silos and such,

To change for the better the World we all touch.

If I ran the zoo, I would hire people who,

Would focus on making our customers, too,

Feel glad that they know us and to want to come back

And we’d work to make sure there’d be nothing they’d lack

We’d be curious, too, us folks in this zoo,

We’d want to be knowing the why, what and who,

Of what happens around us, and how it takes place

Cuz, change is a creature we have to embrace.

So, that’s what I’d do, If I ran the zoo,

There’s more… but I’ll turn it over to you.

With blank sheet of paper and pen in the ink,

Tell me, how would you do it?

What do you think?




Filed under Leadership, Leadership Values, NOWLeadership, organizational Development, Servant Leadership

17 responses to “If I Ran the Zoo ~ A Whimsical Look at Leadership

  1. Very creative post! Dr. Suess’ tale lends itself perfectly to helping us envision our organizations as if we “ran the zoo.” I love your bit about changing the world for the better. Here’s what I’d do, if I ran the zoo:

    If I ran the zoo, I would ask for a clue,
    To what everyone wanted, hoped for and knew.
    We would work together, my team and me,
    Sharing ideas in hopes that we would be
    A force for positive change and progress.
    It’d be great, it’d be fun, and we’d be the best!
    If I ran the zoo, we’d succeed at it, too.
    So what would you do, if you could run the zoo?

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Caitlin~ Great! I love the part about being a force for positive change and progress. Thank you for that… and for playing too 🙂

    • I think you nailed it! Thank you for running the zoo today!

      If I ran a zoo, I’d notice the clue
      between me, between you
      telling us truths unnoticed by most
      who preen, while they boast
      eating caviar and toast
      while we hover and host leaning forward at most
      to hear the least obvious detail
      listening close to find an edge in retail
      while we flicker and smile our minds race awhile
      we solve small issues at hand
      and large issues by trial
      we notice by noticing our problems grow cheap
      our voice becomes taller and our meaning more deep.
      If i ran a zoo, we’d all feed on time, and the children who visited would know meaning to rhyme. They’d learn as we do, by doing and few would ever wonder how they ended up in the zoo 🙂

  2. This is awesome Gwyn. “If I ran the zoo, I would see to it, too,

    What’s important to me is important to you.

    And just to be sure, I’d turn it around,

    So things that you value, with me, would resound.”

    It is on that I would build if I ran the zoo! If we all just stopped and understood each other, as opposed to merely listening, we would realise that there is an opportunity to be had and rolling up our sleeves and working together to make that difference! We are all on purpose, we just need to know and understand our own story, as well as know and understand the story of those we are in a relationship with (work or home)!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thabo, ~ Well said. Real listening is about seeking to understand. When we are able to do that, a whole realm of possibility opens up. Thank you for shining the light there. To me, it is key to everything else.

  3. Like Caitlin said, a very creative post!

    I’ll give it a try (I’m going to try to incorporate the 7 principles discussed in my book “The Supermanager”)…

    If I ran the zoo, we would start by hiring the best.
    There’s no time in life for anything less.
    We would make sure to train them so well,
    So they knew that when they were on their own they would do swell.
    And while we would monitor the result to make sure everything was going fine, they would then be given the freedom to complete their tasks.
    But we would always be there in case there was a question they needed to ask.
    By example is the way we would lead.
    Because setting a good example encourages everybody to do things the right way which helps the whole zoo succeed.
    We would listen to everybody’s ideas and praise good work.
    And we would manage each differently since we all have our quirks.

    That was fun!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Greg~ Well, you managed to cover quite a bit of territory in a few lines! It seems that you, Caitlin and Thabo are rhyming from a similar poetry book, as it were.:) Thank you for joining in the spirit of this post. I had fun writing it and am glad you had fun participating in it.

  4. Wonderful! Dr. Seuss would be delighted, as will everyone who reads this post.

  5. Pingback: If I Ran the Zoo | digitalNow | Scoop.it

  6. Stella

    If I ran the zoo, there’d be more of me an you
    and by setting an example the crowd would come too,
    there’d be notions, and questions and answers to suggest
    and the brainstorming would come
    like the notes from some jazz
    A little pizazz is all it would take
    to keep it all interesting and promote faith
    Believing in each other and trusting wouldn’t hurt
    with good intentions then no harm can do.

    If I ran the zoo I wouldn’t be alone…
    look forward to find more people to call my own.

    THought I’d give it a shot too. THis was inspirational! Very nice poem and idea you started here.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thank you, Stella! Great effort…and I like the part of about setting an example. That’s key. So, yes, I’d vote for you to run the zoo 🙂

  7. If I ran the zoo,
    Here’s what I’d do
    I’d share Gwyn’s blog
    And ask “Can we do this, too?”

    Thanks for the good advice. Happy New Year!

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