At the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, there is a working paleontology laboratory that manages the sorting, classification and archiving of the bone and plant remains that are found in the tar pits. Rather than be hidden in the bowels of the building as some behind-the-scenes functions are, this lab is glass enclosed and the work is in full view of the visitors.

People can see the scientists painstakingly sorting through deposits with a small artist’s paintbrush, looking for the bone remnants that may be found within them. The facility has over 1 million specimens from 650 species logged and categorized with the specific date and quadrant in which they were found.

I watched the sorting process for about a minute and already was bored. I can’t even imagine a job where you peer through a microscope dusting off a handful of sediment looking for a bone chip with a paintbrush. Then I learned that those performing the tasks are volunteers! The lab only has three paid staff with the remaining work done by those who willingly donate their time to do it.

The La Brea Tar Pits are a great example of matching interests with needs. They have developed a way to recruit and train those with an interest in their work, and to do it at a consistent enough level to run the operation.

There is a job for everyone. How can your organization excavate the talent pool to pair the work with those most interested in performing it – even if they are doing it for free?

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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