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The elephant in the room

We have all been there. That moment when someone mentions something (could be a team, a person, a project) and people look uncomfortably at each other while trying to hide their reaction, or sigh and say, usually, one of these things:

  • That’s not something we can fix now
  • We have always done it this way
  • You need to convince “them”
  • This wouldn’t work here

There are many things that can create an Elephant in the Room. Organizational culture is not only “how we do things here”, but it’s also what problems have we faced and how we have solved.

When we haven’t solved a problem and we don’t want to discuss it, it becomes the Elephant in the Room. In the beginning, some people may still try to work through it, but over time, it becomes a dead weight that we carry everywhere.

As Humberto Maturana says, organizations are networks of conversations. If there are topics that your team or organization cannot discuss, over time they will become blind spots, as teams will skillfully avoid them.

People will unconsciously get the message and start avoiding difficult topics. Organizational culture will start shifting into factions and secrets, mistrust, and power dynamics will start sprouting, which will end up debilitating your organization. At any time, there will be many covert and overt processes in a group.

To change your organization, you need to start by changing the conversations. When you don’t have organizational development consultants, you won’t see major changes until there are undeniable signs of these elephants. Likely, when you have no other option than changing the culture of the organization, either because you have lost an important number of clients, or because process improvement is nearly impossible.

If you have the support of a process consultant, someone who pays attention not only to the things that are done but also to the way they are done, you will have conversations that help your team better understand what is going on and start eliminating these undiscussables.

If you have ran into an elephant, and you want to deal with it before it derails your entire organization, book a time with us, we’ll be happy to share some ideas free of charge.

You can read our offer here. Or the short and sweet version: a one-on-one, free, no strings attached, confidential, 60-min phone conversation to help you design and implement your project or deal with whatever issues you’re dealing with. We just need 5 minutes to explain to you who we are and how we have helped other clients, and the rest of the hour it’s all about you and your needs.