How your office is like Star Trek

August 3, 2016 Robert Hardy

Are you in a boardroom or on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise?

Star Trek like your office

Who hasn’t wanted to sit in Kirk’s chair on the bridge or rattle around in the warp core with Scottie? When you're at the office and sitting at your desk, look around — you may be surprised at how similar your surroundings are to those of Star Trek.

We already showed you how your office is like summer blockbusters, Ghostbusters and Suicide Squad, but now it's Trekkie time.  

Star Trek has had so many incarnations and so many different captains that it’s actually spawned an entire universe of management consultant metaphors – not to mention a book (Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation). But let's head back to the good old days.

Building a diverse team with incredible experience

With a diverse crew that led the way in diversity and included an African American woman, a Russian (America’s biggest enemy when the series launched in 1966), and a mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, Star Trek has been held up since day one as a utopian vision of what an inclusive, diverse future could look like.

Captain Kirk, on the other hand, has spawned endless debate about the merits of his management style.

Some would argue he is the classic example of a narcissistic leader: charming, charismatic, and the first to step into the limelight – willing to put his crew’s lives at risk on a long shot in order to achieve his mission of the week.

You wouldn’t want to be a front line worker on Kirk’s Enterprise. While your company’s client service team may have frustrating customers to deal with, at least they’re not getting shot by aliens like the “red shirts” on Star Trek!

And let’s not even get into how Kirk’s flirty, philandering ways would need to be addressed by a 21st-century company’s HR department.

Is Kirk the ultimate visionary leader?

Others point to Kirk as a visionary leader who is willing to embrace a radical, unexpected course of action if it will get results. And he is the first to put himself in harm’s way by leading the away mission.

Ever the visionary captain, Kirk has good reason to be a lone wolf leader. If the Enterprise were the branch of a company, he’d be running the office on an island in the middle of the South Atlantic. In his role, Kirk has to have a lot of autonomy when it comes to decision making.

Off in the deepest reaches of space where his only contact with Starfleet Command is rare and spotty, Kirk has to interpret the mission, and the rules, in his own way. They’re so far away that help isn’t coming quickly if they get in trouble – but it’s guaranteed that when Kirk heads back to Earth, he has to answer for his actions!

Team collaboration at its best

Through all of their turbulent missions, Kirk has earned the utmost loyalty of his staff of crew, and has surrounded himself with a management group – Scottie, Spock, Uhura and Dr. McKoy among them. Wisely, Kirk has chosen a team of people who each bring a unique skill set that compliments and counter-weights his own abilities (and failings).

Scottie is the classic example of “under promise, over deliver.” He doesn’t set overly aggressive targets that just can’t be met – he beats the street when it comes time to report on results! (Though that can frustrate Kirk, especially when he just wants to know if they’ll get the engines working in time to escape from whatever danger they’re up against. Why does Scottie refuse to give him a definitive answer!?)

Uhura is a talented multitasker who has a lot of specialty skills and is willing to jump in wherever she’s needed. While her main role is to serve as the communications specialist and interpreter for the Enterprise, she is just as ready to man a science station, navigating the ship or take on whatever senior role needs to be filled.

The role of Uhura was hailed as a great achievement in the representation of black women in popular culture when the original Star Trek series first came out. Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, to stick with the role even as she contemplated quitting it after the first season because he felt Uhura sent such a powerful message.

Today, though, some might suggest Uhura epitomizes another struggle that women face: the glass ceiling. After all, given all of Uhura’s incredible skills and abilities, and the number of times she’s saved the day, why hasn’t she been made the captain of her own starship yet?

Then there’s Spock. Guided by logic, reason and science, he puts his emotions and his personal wishes aside. As a manager, he is about efficiency and making the correct decision for logical reasons. Spock isn’t much of a people person but when it comes to figuring out the best way to organize a project or work towards a solution, he’s the process-driven king of results.

And finally, there’s Dr. McCoy. As a doctor, the Hippocratic Oath is his guiding beacon. And with that in mind, he is always thinking about the good of the crew, the good of the civilizations and aliens they’ve encountered, and what is the correct moral and ethical course of action. You might think of him as being a combination of a smart corporate counsel and a good ombudsman — giving Kirk the advice he needs to make the right moral choice in the face of adversity.

The bottom line? You might not have any ghosts, warp drives or supervillains at your office (unless you work for a ridiculously cool company), but that’s not to say that you don’t have a lot in common with the people who do.

Now check out how your office is like Ghostbusters and Suicide Squad.

How does your office compare to Star Trek or the new Star Trek Beyond? We'd love to hear your take, so feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author

Robert Hardy

Robert Hardy is a Vancouver-based television producer, writer and development consultant. Through his company Perfect Day Productions, Robert works with leading producers, writers and networks to help create innovative new television series, digital media and documentaries.

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