New Zealand Packhorse lobster

Business Lessons from Rock Lobsters

The New Zealand Rock Lobster (aka Crayfish) comprises 2 distinct species, the Red Rock Lobster, and the Packhorse Rock Lobster (the world’s largest lobster, living for over 30 years and weighing up to 20Kg/44lbs).  

To grow into a full-sized adult, a rock lobster must shed (molt) its outer shell and grow a new larger shell every year. During this transition period, their skin is soft, leaving them vulnerable to predators. They hide out in rock caverns for several days, waiting for their new shell to harden before they feel safe enough to venture out again to forage.

I use the lobster analogy when I think of personal growth and organizational growth. Eventually, we bump into the limits of our current shell. If we want to progress to the next level, we must break free from the old shell that binds us, and grow into a new, bigger shell.

As the saying goes, “What got you here, won’t get you there”.

As individuals, to progress to the next level, we often need to learn new skills, expand our portfolio of experiences, and tackle challenges beyond the edge of our comfort zone.

As organizations, to progress to the next level, we often need to re-organize our company structure, upgrade our technology stack, improve our work processes, dial in our Metrics (KPIs), and upgrade the capabilities of our management team.  

Just like the lobster, when it’s time to break free from the constraints of our old shell, we are temporarily vulnerable and “soft” during the transition period. Accept that you may have to slow down in order to speed up. Allow time for your new larger shell to form and harden, and build the courage to venture forth again with full confidence.

I think of the molting process as an upward spiral. You grow. You reach a new limit. You cast off your old shell and grow a new one. Off you go again until you reach the next limit. Repeat!

Have you reached the limits of your current shell?

What are you planning to do in the coming year to break free and grow into a new larger shell?


Until next time…