There is an on going study in Russia that is looking at the domestication of Foxes. It started in the late 1950’s, and used selective breeding to create a “dog like” fox and started to see dramatic results in just four generations.

They started by selecting foxes at fur farms that exhibited less “wild response” when their cages were opened. Then for the next generation,
the researchers hand-fed the cubs. They also attempted to touch or pet the foxes.

If the next generation of foxes show any aggressiveness, they were discarded from the test. Less than 10% made the cut to continue. After just four generations they started to behave like dogs. They wagged their tails and eagerly sought contact with human companionship.

They also started to show physical changes. Floppy, droopy ears ears like domesticated dogs. Fur color more dog like, legs getting shorter, and tails getting curly.

The experiment is still ongoing, and is sustained by selling the domesticated foxes for about $9000 each.

I’ve noticed that at my work, “selective breeding” is used to select leaders. People that exhibit the behavior deemed favorable by the leadership gets promoted. About 10% make the cut each generation, and the rest are discarded, doomed to be a regular workers the rest of their career, and not be a leader.

The selection criteria deemed “favorable” is not always what is best for the organization, but can at time reflect biases (sex/age/physical appearance, etc), old ways of thinking, or just the antiquated “good old boys” network.

I also see this at church. Church leaders are selected when they show the favorable qualities. Each generation, or step on the leadership ladder, is evaluated, and about 10% is selected to advance to the next generation (step up). About 10% of Bishops counselors will get selected as Bishops. About 10% of Bishops make the cut to be in a SP, and so on. There is nothing wrong with this, as an organization has the right to select the kind of leaders it wants.

But where it can hinder the church is the same problems I see at my secular job. Biases, old ways of thinking, or even a “good old boys” network in selecting leaders can hinder the church in meeting the needs of its ever changing and increasingly diverse membership.

What do you think. Is there a better way of selecting leaders than the current “selective breeding”? Is it too hard to change because we believe that all calls are made by “revelation”, or “inspiration”, despite J. Golden Kimball’s quote below?

“Some people say a person receives a position in this church through revelation, and others say they get it through inspiration, but I say they get it through relation. If I hadn’t been related to Heber C. Kimball I wouldn’t have been a damn thing in this church.”

J. Golden Kimball