The Elephant in the Room
According to Wikipedia “Elephant in the room” or ” Elephant in the living room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.
Have you ever been in a meeting or a board room and everyone in the room knew what the true root of a problem being discussed was, but would not address it? Ever feel the silent awareness and thoughts vibrating from the people in the room, but there were barriers that prevented people from expressing their honest feelings?
Elephants Have Muzzles
This silence could be due to personal feelings that stemmed from fear of retaliation or maybe standing out in an awkward or going against the flow, away from others. So the one or several things that need to be addressed keeps the “elephant” in the room to continue to grow and take up unnecessary space, crowding and squashing thoughts and ideas that could be very useful to the organization’s goals and success.
This common phenomenon of not addressing the real culprit of a problem can exist in organizations for years. Resulting in genuine issues or concerns that are ignored and not addressed. Failing to address the real issues directly will keep an organization from becoming its best.
The Culture Elephant
In observations among Healthcare leaders and colleagues when discussing current affairs and concerns, little or no reference is made to the root cause of many issues as being a “culture problem.” Culture has not made the Leadership Pillar list in many organizations today and unfortunately, in many ways continues to be glazed over as a intentional leadership goal.
Issues that seem to have more priority usually relate to discussions around people’s unfavorable behaviors, finance, regulatory requirements, and the list goes on.
One of the more common and by far the largest Elephant, sitting in the board room is named Culture. Culture can be a very sizable elephant that takes up residence if not addressed systemically.
Elephants Belong in Wildlife
An organization that is intentional about addressing culture and developing a culture that allows transparency and open communication and values everyone’s opinion is a culture that will keep the elephant out of the room.
Elephants belong in zoos and not in organizations, unless of course they are truly the Mascot!