too sensible for Wikipedia,
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A contemporary colloquialism which refers to situations whereby groups of people are obliged to comply with outdated, inconvenient, or even counter-productive rules, regulations, or methodologies, in order to achieve goals which might otherwise have been attained through more rational, and often obvious, procedures. The image conjured up by this phrase is that of a line of goats, each having a horn tied to the same length of rope for better control by their shepherd. Thus, the goats can be lead, single-file, wherever the shepherd pleases, even though the experience may be unpleasant for the independent-minded goats, who have no option but to comply with the uncomfortable manner in which they are led through an unpredictable path, a path which, if left to themselves, they might never have selected. This phrase is often applied to procedures which must be followed as the result of instructions given by officious administrators or pedantic government officials.