How to recognise a dinosaur

Living in the past, failing  to adapt, it’s days are numbered, it can change but it’s got to really want to. 

Do you recognise this description ? A large organisation rather complacent about its relationship with customers and employees, performance wise coasting, obsessed with cost cutting,  inward looking, doesn’t feel it can learn much from other organisations because of its uniqueness, reluctant to collaborate due to past experience, made up of a number of management layers and a stifling bureaucracy which together makes it difficult to do something different and adds to a general risk aversion way of not doing things. Most likely employee satisfaction and loyalty is low.

This is a dinosaur organisation and the fact that so many people recognise it is evidence of both its continued existence and its prevalence. Just as the  dinosaurs were around for a long time before becoming extinct these organisations have been around for a long time. But a pandemic may be their equivalent of the meteorite that struck with little warning and wiped out the dinosaurs.

Unlike dinosaurs humans are very adaptable and so are their organisations if they recognise the need to change! Most often the HR literature deals with the resistance to change amongst employees but dinosaur organisations have boards which don’t recognise the need for change. If they receive a critical assessment of their organisation they typically fail to recognise it or counter with the assessors failure to take adequate account of local circumstances for example higher level of unemployment, history of poor housing stock, shorter life expectancy, diversity of community, decline of traditional industries, lack of a skilled pool of workers. They certainly don’t see the need for radical change after all one way of reading the auditors/management consultants report would be that the organisation is solid and steady, comfortably mid table, a position the board regards as satisfactory. As to employee moral well their have been some restructuring and outsourcing to cut cost and this resulted in some job losses which was predictably unpopular but things are settling down. And so the most likely out come is the chief executive to be asked to come up with an action plan in response to the report which identifies ways of better engaging with employees, review current management structure to see if their is scope for savings, and look at the feasibility of any collaboration opportunities arising in the future. 

There was nothing the dinosaurs could do to save themselves but there are things large organisations can do but first the chair of the board or chief executive is going to have to persuade the board members of the need for real change. 

Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger

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