Almost every business has an elephant or two; the problem everyone pretends isn’t there. How do you successfully create change without the elephant crushing your plans?
Elephants can take many forms. They can be a troubled department that creates a permanent roadblock, or a dysfunctional team. Sometimes they can be a poor technology choice, where the cost was so great replacement is prohibitive but functionality is far less than optimal. Other times the elephant is the ghost of past decisions, a bad outsourcing decision, or a poor acquisition. In a smaller firm it might be a ledger full of “accounts payable” where the elephant is that those accounts are likely to never pay, but no one takes them off the books because the reality would just be too bleak if they were removed.
In many workplace cultures, pointing out the elephant is actively discouraged. In some rare cases, it’s career suicide. Pointing out problems can be viewed as negative, or whining, so sometimes it’s best to figure out what the elephants are, and how you’ll work around them in your strategy rather than charge the elephant head on.
Creating a strategy that derives results that may allow the group to put the elephant to rest is a win-win. If you do decide to “tackle the elephant” head on, it’s critical that you have strong supporters, a great plan and a reasonable timeline. When you create your strategy you may not name the elephant in your plan, but you need to absolutely account for it in your design.
Have you ever had to work around the elephant in the room? How did you conquer it? Share in the comments below…
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Our Guide: Reading the Terrain: A Short Field Guide to Understanding the Corporate Landscape, will give you some great observational questions to help you identify the obvious and not so obvious elephants. Get it free when you subscribe to our site! Simply put your email here. We will send you site updates and will not share your address with anyone.