Ostriching Out – Avian lessons for Corporate Culture

For most people our first learning about ostriches is that they are the planet’s largest birds. Subsequently, we are taught that they lay the largest eggs, lack the power of flight, can outrun most animals and can kick with enough strength to kill a lion. So, when predators approach, they are equally capable to fight and to flee. However, the most famous characteristic of ostriches is that they bury their heads in the sand when they sense danger.

It is a trait that has earned them considerable mocking. The idea that if you, dug a hole for yourself, literally, and pretended the danger has passed – it would cease to exist. It’s a laughable characteristic. We all know that living in denial, pretending that there is no threat and burrowing ourselves away, only propagates the problem – leaving us with less time to prepare as the approach closer. The cruelest twist of this is that they have abilities to deal with their predators, these would just be so much more effective had the ostriches prepared.

There’s a lesson to be learnt from this. Today’s office-places are a complex web of social interactions. Consequently, this leads to larger teams serving multiple functions. Great opportunities for things to go great but also great opportunities for things to fall apart. And quickly due to miscommunication. An exhibition of ostriching out are those individuals who sense impending trouble and instead of admitting that they are falling behind try to pretend that everything is rosy. What eventually happens is that problems snowball and by the time the situation is finally addressed, the problem to be dealt with is even more gigantic.

The lesson to be learnt is simple.  All difficulties start small. Address an issue as an issue before it becomes a problem. Painting a rosy picture is for optimistic artists ( A lesser known strain -the succesful ones usually painted works that echoed reality) Once you identify an issue tackling it becomes easy, whether that means rallying  more troops, changing parameters or approaching it from a different angle. Ostriching out is a form of cowardice …… and this world has no room for the coward to advance.


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