5 big business lessons you can learn from Star Trek

Gene Roddenberry had a dream. The result of that dream was Star Trek. Roddenberry’s concept was embodied in a future where mankind had, after eons of trial and error, finally grown up. In three hundred years the pettiness of racism, greed, war (among Earth people) and drug abuse crimes have mostly gone the way of the dodo. Warp drive opened the universe to the children of the Earth and showed them the diversity of life elsewhere; and the children, finally, matured.

Executives at Desilu Productions first thought Star Trek was “too cerebral” for audiences, and turned down the first pilot. How wrong they were. When the original series was finally released, the audience went wild for it. And when it was cancelled after only three years, the letters of protest arrived at the studio by the thousands. However, the aspects of Roddenberry’s future stuck in the minds of Star Trek fans, because Captain Kirk and his crew conducted themselves in a manner that appeals to intelligent, decent people—meaning the ethics within show’s story-lines acted out what people always knew to be proper conduct, but just didn’t have the articulation to put it into words.

Businesses of all sizes would do well by following the Star Trek example. Call it enterprise gamification. That is, utilising strategic custom elearning development, game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. By employing game-design techniques, which can increase a company’s productivity and nurture the betterment of employees – among other positive aspects of a successful company and combining these approaches with the efficient structure of the Enterprise’s crew, a company could rise to success quite rapidly.

Here are some tips on organizational structure plucked right out of the Star Trek matrix:

1. Don’t rely on the computer to make all your decisions

Computers run programs. That’s all they do. Not until computers become self-aware (which will take hundreds, if not thousands of years to achieve) will they be able to deal with all the unexpected situations that pop up every day. If you’ll notice, the Enterprise’s computer was consulted only for specific data.

2. Don’t surround yourself with Yes Men

Captain Kirk is in charge of his ship, but he is not a malevolent dictator, or a king lording over his vassals. He is in charge, true, but any organization has to have a leader to oversee the actions of those it employs. If the president or CEO of a corporation listens only to sycophants who echo them, then something is seriously wrong. If a person is good enough to hire, they are smart enough to have useful input.

3. Know your rivals

Full intelligence profiles are kept by the Federation of Planets on their enemies, such as the Romulans and the Klingons. “Know thy enemy,” to quote Sun Tzu. Nothing could be wiser. Competitors are not stupid, or they wouldn’t be a threat, or in business at all. Learn all you can from them, and perhaps someday learn to work together for the good of all.

4. Walk among your people

Get out of the office. If you’re in there all day, you’re not feeling the pulse of the everyday activity in your outfit. Look at your people, talk with them, learn from them. Kirk didn’t have an office.

5. Find and use people who are diverse and competent

Notice how Kirk sought the advice of his different crewmen? McCoy supplied the ethic information, Spock had all the facts, Scotty could fix anything and Uhura had the language expertise. Look to those in your staff who demonstrate diverse talents. Doing so can catapult your organization to the top of the heap.

Take this themes from Star Trek and implement them into your organization to motivate employees who then can produce great work.



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