Tag Archive | business

Tackle the elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss) crops up everywhere (thank you Wikipedia).  

I personally love an elephant in the room with a new team as you can engage so many problem solving approaches to really help people to view problems from a new perspective.

Denial (it’ll be allright), blame (it’s not our problem), avoidance (we haven’t got time) are all examples of barriers to effectiveness, and are very common human responses to change and uncertainty. Working together boldly to chip away at the elephant in the room creates a real sense of trust and enthusiasm once the first wave of “can’t do it” passes. We’ve succesfully conquered 2 elephants by a mixture of 6 hats, asking Why, following every “we can’t” statement with an “UNLESS?” question and giving the most creative, random suggestions proper reflection with no shooting. Helping to contribute to a sense of “we did that impossible thing” is priceless, and that’s why I would encourage you to dig deep and find out where your own elephants are.

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Show some respect

On Twitter today I found the most perfect illustration (courtesy of @amontalenti):

To me, this sums up why it’s not OK to assume you know someone else’s job. Nothing worse than being told “you just need to do this, it’s easy” by someone who has absolutely no idea what is required and has never done it, nor has any intention of learning the skill.

So, just don’t do it. And if you have found yourself doing it, find the recipient and apologise for treating them like an idiot. Next time, ask questions to understand the task, ask the specialist opinion of the person doing it, and work together to agree the best and quickest means to achieve the goal. Together.