By Hedges Capers, M.A.     (Fall 1991)

When was the last time you were standing or sitting beside a normal, regular, ordinary person (or so you thought) only to witness a strange and terrifying transformation of that human being?

Often imperceptibly at first, yet sometimes with truly astonishing speed, the seams of their suits or dresses begin to split. The features of their face contort, turning red and blue, twisting out of shape. Their necks begin to arch and extend. Suddenly an enormous tail appears and they become 60’ long, 30’ tall and weigh 400,000 pounds! If they move, the earth trembles and shakes. The sound of their movements is so ear-shattering that scientists have named these creatures “Thunder Lizards.” So there you are facing a . . .

Brontosaurus

You try to remain calm, but you know you are in BIG danger.
One false move on your part and it’s over …

What have you done in this situation in the past? What have other managers done before? What can you do? What can anyone do? History, of course, is filled with people who have made the wrong choices. Some have gotten hostile and tried to retaliate in kind. Some have tried to outrun the monster, but mankind is just not equipped for such a race. Some have collapsed, thinking that, as victims, they might elicit pity.

Still other foolish humans, feeling frightened, sought to hide from its sight, trying to take refuge under the “belly of the beast.” Hiding only seems to frighten and confuse the beast and often leads to him/her to sit down in frustration – a truly crushing experience!

Others have tried to reason with the beast, but, unfortunately, evidence shows that the Brontosaurus brain (being merely the size of a walnut) is incapable of reason, sensitivity, or compassion.

Often, the choice is to become a beast oneself and battle them head-to-head. This is fruitless and dangerous and causes injury to innocent bystanders.

So, what to do?

Clearly, there is only one alternative left – climb aboard and ride them! Ride them in the direction they are going. Hard as this may seem – particularly for those inclined to tell others what to do, where to go, and how to get there – it is the only effective way to handle a Brontosaurus. If you are willing to go along for the journey, you can be sure they will lead you to the problem as well as the eventual solution.

One must remember that a Brontosaurus is born when the need to establish blame or fault arises (i.e. when someone is right and someone else is wrong). Reports indicate that in many corporate settings, this appears to be occurring with greater and greater frequency. It may well be the source of problems in the area of Total Quality Management (TQM), on-time deliveries, customer satisfaction, and other corporate concerns.

Why the increase in corporate Brontosauruses today? Is it sub-par education or a poor diet? Environmental hazards or not enough exercise? We believe that, as in good health, prevention is the key and the appearance of these beasts can be prevented simply by addressing their psychological needs. Research shows that these creatures are innately gentle, cooperative, appreciate being accepted (or adequate), or hearing that they have the right to exist. They need to be wanted and valued.

So when you think or feel that you are about to witness the birth of a Brontosaurus, remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth 40,000 pounds of cure. If somehow you don’t react quickly enough to prevent their birth, remember: “The only way to ride a Brontosaurus is in the way it is going.”

Proper Mounting Instructions

  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T
  • Appreciate: “It must have been difficult.”
  • Listen to the whole banana.
  • Go in their direction. They will change once they feel heard.

Improper Mounting Instructions

  • Tell them how they feel.
  • Ignore their experience.
  • Fix it before they tell you how it broke.
  • Rush or interrupt their story.
  • “Let’s act like civilized adults here!”
  • “There’s no reason to be upset or hostile!”
  • “Please don’t yell at me.”
  • “I didn’t do anything wrong.”