@johncutlefish's blog

Check out Iterate.fm, my podcast with friend and coworker Tareq

20 Ways to Kill Elephants (In Rooms)

Published: December 31, 2016

Or just dance with them…

1 mct FinIQlekRi C29CQdQ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blind.JPG* Attack the elephant head on during the budgeting process

  • Set a trap for the elephant. He’ll eventually overstep his bounds
  • Starve the elephant of attention and life-giving support and validation (to do this you must locate/control all sources of contributing energy, and have patience)
  • Introduce another elephant into the room, and let them fight for resources. Elephant jousting
  • Keep reminding people about the elephant with long emails. They’ll come around … eventually. Bonus: Reply All. Extra Bonus: Put the important bits at the end of the email
  • Persuade yourself that the elephant is much bigger than it appears and fight the good fight
  • Hire people to act as the elephant buffer. Build a human shield around the elephant and advocate externally for harmony and acceptance
  • Go to a conference, learn about complex adaptive systems, and tell everyone the story about the blind men and the elephant . That’ll blow everyone’s mind. We’re all the elephant dude…
  • Lure the elephant away from the room into another division
  • Talk incessantly about the elephant in 1:1s and repel with silent angst
  • Introduce a mouse into the room to antagonize the elephant
  • During retrospectives ask why 5 times. Them: Elephant. Elephant. Elephant. Elephant. Elephant. You: We’re looking for root cause. Keep trying!
  • “Start with where you are” (elephant and all, Kanban Method style)
  • Build (or acquire) an innovation lab with barbed wire and 6ft thick walls. Sound proof it. Smuggle the work product out during cover of night, and hope that the elephant doesn’t take credit for it
  • Do nothing. Let the elephant leave/die when she is ready (or when company is disrupted and has to butcher the elephant for food)
  • Try to de-normalize the elephantine behavior with cultural manifestos and vague values that bear little resemblance to how people actually act
  • Try to transform the elephant into a more Agile / Teal / Lean elephant
  • Micro-services. Because, you know, micro-services. Micro-elephants with the AI power-up
  • Apply [methodology X] to organizational design. When it doesn’t work, listen to the consultants blame the elephant over drinks at the bar. If only…
  • Jump on the elephant! Become the invaluable elephant whisperer (aka “The Leadership Guru” or “). Write book, and become the darling of the exec set
  • Agree you need to rid yourself of the elephant (at an offsite, with trust activities and stickies), but get reminded a quarter later that the elephant pays the bills
  • Accept the elephant will outlive your stay. Retreat into craft and pragmatism until the time is right