by Gerry Lukos, Oregon Chapter, Business & Finance Division
Some years back I was invited to give the keynote at the Oregon Chapter SLA annual meeting dinner. The theme was “What Chimpanzees Have Taught me about Surviving (and Thriving) in a Corporation.” Years of volunteering at the Oregon Zoo primate house and reading about and working around great apes had made me realize that understanding chimp society could help me deal with the challenges and occasional frustrations of working in a corporate environment.
From time to time, I pull out this list and see that these learnings still apply to my role as a corporate librarian and also to my interactions with people on and off the job. Maybe the lessons imparted to me by my chimp friends and acquaintances could be useful as you move forward in your career.
- Whether you spend most of your time in a group or on your own, you are part of a larger community.
- Build alliances.
- Keep track of who grooms whom.
- Know which trees bear fruit … and when.
- From time to time you need to display some attitude.
- Know when to stop screaming.
- Sometimes the bully wins.
- Dominance is temporary.
- Be resilient.
Number 6 was actually the first one I wrote down. It was inspired by a chimp named Hannah who was going through a difficult time being integrated into a new group, and it’s very much like a saying we have at my company: “Disagree and commit.” Can you figure out how each of these lessons might translate into your own work environment? I look forward to reading your comments.
Gerry is a Research Analyst (aka Librarian) at Intel Corporation and as such she gets to spend much of her time monitoring the news for events and trends in various industries. She is a member and a past president of the Oregon Chapter of SLA and has been volunteering at the Oregon Zoo for 19 years.