The elephant in the room

Over the last few months I have helped one of my clients to start talking to the Big Scary Department about their overlapping project scopes.  I used a few simple architecture diagrams to describe my client’s intended scope, but really the job was to say “Let’s stop pretending that elephant over there will leave the room.”

In my volunteer work, there is also an elephant in the room.  For quite a while now, people have been walking around the big grey thing; discreetly alluding to a grey aura in the room; declaring that the greyness is unimportant;  and wondering why new people find our little room too crowded.  I am now informing people that we have an ELEPHANT in the room, and asking them to help me measure the girth of the elephant, so that we might find a door through which it might exit.

The elephant is often an issue with no “win-win solution” that will make everyone happy.  Managers decide to study the issue further, or they decide to declare that there ought to be a resolution that satisfies everyone.  But eventually the lack of a clear decision causes more harm than the decision would.  I am noticing that once the managers acknowledge the elephant, and the need to get it out of the room, we can find ways to push it through the door.