Is Your Company Trapped in Jurassic Park?

by Julian S. Newman

In the Jurassic Age there were dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, saber tooth tigers, and all type of cool (and dangerous!) creatures.

Though the Jurassic Park movies brought these prehistoric behemoths into the theater, why don’t we see a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a Pterodactyls on our way to the book store?

Well there are a a variety of different theories why dinosaurs are no longer with us:

  • Asteroid or meteor colliding with earth

  • A global flood

  • An atmosphere shift of some type.

    While researching for this post (via Google), theories generally fell into 3 categories:

  1. Different Environment (Atmosphere had changed)

  2. Unexpected Event (A Galactic Rock hit the planet)

  3. Shift in Engagement (Food sources weren’t readily available)

Because of change, the unexpected, and tectonic shifting, the earth isn’t quite the same as it used to be.

And honestly, I am perfectly fine with not having to dodge velociraptors on while entering Barnes & Noble.

To navigate a planet of dinosaurs while reaching for the latest edition of Fast Company magazine, would make the world a much more dangerous place.

Ironically, many companies are trapped in Jurassic Park.

Homogeneity, organizational silos, and lack of collaborative leadership engagement are just some of their characteristics.

And just like the dinosaurs, they are quickly going extinct.

But diverse teams that are comprised of different perspectives, origin stories, skill sets, and mindsets aren’t just surviving the changing world, they are thriving in it.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that diverse groups can solve problems better than a more homogenous team of greater objective ability.

In order to move out of Jurassic Park and into the present and future as an organization, we must develop diverse teams and collaborative environments.

This requires different metrics, new strategies, and dangerous ideas.

That is the only way to exit the land of the dinosaurs and escape extinction.

4 Actions to Escape Jurassic Park:

  1. Reach Out: One organization I worked with in the past told me “We can’t find any diverse candidates”. After reviewing their hiring and recruiting practices, we discovered their tradition of hiring via referral. Though this system fostered familiarity, it encouraged them to “fish” in the same pool. When reaching beyond the pool of what was familiar, they began to find new talent.

  2. Listen More: Reaching out and recruiting is only one aspect to exiting Jurassic Park. Retention happens when an atmosphere of authentic communication and trust is built. This only occurs when diverse perspectives and voices are encouraged to share how they see, and what they are experiencing in the company. These insights allow the status quo to be a place to evolve from, not a reality to be trapped in.

  3. Predict Less: Leaders often influence instinctively, and wholeheartedly trust their judgment. It is this judgment, and the ability to make decisions on the fly, that has given high level leaders their platform of leadership. Good leaders can predict the future, so to speak. But the best leaders have learned to temper their prediction reflex that is based on the known, and become more curious while stepping into the unknown.

  4. Travel Often: Leading out of Jurassic Park requires leaders to understand that personal growth is as important as professional growth. The leader must travel outside of their cultural comfort zone with the food they eat, the movies/shows/news they watch, books/magazines/websites they read, the people they spend time with, and the conversations they have. When this isn’t done personally, it is very difficult to authentically lead in the professionally. Cultural intelligent leaders can’t be theorists, but practitioners that are able to speak and influence with the authority that only comes from personal experience.

Leave Jurassic Park.

You could get eaten by dinosaurs or even worse, become a dinosaur yourself.

Julian Newman