The Tiger, the Cat, and the Dinosaur

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Home > Articles > The Tiger, the Cat, and the Dinosaur

 The Tiger, the Cat, and the Dinosaur

Bertrand Leong | General
October 12, 2018
​Competitiveness is a topic that has conquered the world. Politicians, businessmen, and media constantly refer to it. What does it mean and how does it influence our lives?

A leading authority on world competitiveness, Professor Stéphane Garelli pioneered this new field of economics and founded the World Competitiveness Center. A former managing director of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and of the Davos Annual Meetings and chairman of the FF Sandoz Financial and Banking Holding, Professor Garelli is currently chairman of the Swiss Newspaper Le Temps. He is a member of the International Olympic Committee Commission for Sustainability and Legacy and of several institutes worldwide. He was also elected to the Constitutional Assembly of his local state in Switzerland.

In his book, Are you a Tiger, a Cat, or a Dinosaur? 100 questions: How Competitiveness Influences Your Life!, Professor Garelli avoids technicalities and goes beyond academic analysis to illustrate the day-to-day realities of competitiveness on our lives, addressing concerns, and what we can do about it. 

His book offers 100 questions. Some deal with competitiveness (Is boring competitive?), while others deal with leadership (Is failure the price of success?), society (Do we work too much?), and the world around us (What are things worth?). Finally, some questions are more personal (Are you irreplaceable?). 

In likening the tiger, cat, and dinosaur to individuals at various phases/stages of life, Professor Garelli comically illustrates how our competitive streaks evolve with our values and priorities in life, the interplay within an intergenerational workforce, and appreciating how each person can contribute and add value in a different way.

Managing Values in a Company 1




Company Achievement

Social Achievement

Personal Achievement


Work/Life Balance

Life/Life Balance

  • > 60 hours a week
  • Company animals
  • Mobile
  • Success driven
  • Fully dedicated
  • 40 – 60 hours a week
  • Personal achievement
  • Mobile with a home base
  • Work-life balance
  • < 40 hours a week
  • Life quality
  • Immobile
  • Life-life balance
The Tiger: Company Achievement
“If you start your life by becoming a tiger, as a tiger you are working more than 60 hours a week. You are a company animal. You are extremely mobile—trying to find something to kill everywhere. You are success driven and fully dedicated. You are a tiger,” says Professor Garelli.

The Cat: Social Achievement
“After a certain period of time, you get married. You start to buy a flat, you have a mortgage, you have children, and from a tiger, you transform yourself into a cat. As a cat, you are driven by work-life balance, working between 40-60 hours a week, driven by personal achievement. You are mobile with a home base (during the week no problem; during weekends I want to be home with the family), and you want to go on work-life balance.”

The Dinosaur: Personal Achievement
“Then after another period of time, another transformation occurs and from a cat, you transform yourself into a dinosaur. As a dinosaur, you are working less than 40 hours a week. You are driven by life quality. You are totally immobile. You tell your management: ‘Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me. Don’t move me. Forget about me. Leave me alone. I am interested in life-life balance.’”

We are able to extrapolate many lessons from this single illustration. What is striking is that everybody has an added value here. With idealism and unbridled passion, the tiger is a go-getter. Similarly, youth gives all it can: it gives itself without reserve.

The cat tempers idealism with realism and practicality. If you consider everyone to be a tiger and promote the cat as if it were a tiger, then this may pose problems for the cat especially if the role requires the promoted staff to relocate to a new country or region. The ‘cat’ would then have to wrestle with issues like the mortgage, their children’s education (if married with children), and more. Most of the time the cats will refuse a promotion (if it requires them to move away from their family) and quit the company.

The dinosaur remembers the history of the company, the corporate culture. They remember why you do things this way and not that way, have the benefit of experience and hindsight, and are powerful this way.

Knowing these differences helps us manage values in a company and match the challenge of the job to the value of the individual.

1 Garelli S, 10 May 2016. Are you a tiger, a cat, or a dinosaur? 100 questions: how competitiveness influences your life!, Stéphane Garelli.

Mr Bertrand Leong is a research journalist with SIM. He writes for m360 and Today's Manager.

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