Had a great lunch on Friday with Arthur Shelley and his Organisational Zoo hosted by VPSCIN. Aside from working for Cadbury’s and always seeming to have a (un?)healthy supply of chocolates on-hand, he has recently published a great book on what he calls the organizational zoo.
He wrote the book to build better relationships between people at work using metaphors to clarify team dynamics and match stakeholders in projects. Arthur says that organisations are like zoos with lots of animals who are not normally together placed in cages (desks and work-pods) and forced to interact. This obviously causes stress and the metaphors help to relieve the stress in a fun, gender-neutral and positive way.
Arthur ran an interesting exercise which highlighted how the addition of some extra bits of information can change your decisions quite markedly using pictures of people. He then ran a “quick and dirty” psychological profiling exercise which was highly effective and provides a great snapshot of someone is like (at that time).
His animal archetypes were great. From the lion who rules by fear with the big ego, to the owl as the eternal mentor, to the whale as the techno-dude who are highly specialised but really hard to communicate with, to the yak as the enthusiastic blunderer. They key is that effective zoos need a mix of animals that suit particular contexts.
I think it just goes to show that there is a little bit of animal in everyone. Or as we discovered, a lot of animal in certain people. And, as a former Zoologist like Frank Connolly who coordinates VPSCIN, I’ve always said that I wanted to work with animals and now I realise that I have finally achieved my dream! The moral of that story of course is to be careful of what you wish for as it might come true!
More on this session here at the VPSCIN blog