Embrace the Elephants

Managing Issues Nobody Wants to Talk About but We Can’t Avoid

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.

—James Baldwin

In a well-known fable going back at least 2,500 years, blind men run across an elephant for the first time and try to figure out what it is. As they each explore different parts—the ear, the side, the leg, the tusk, the nose—they come to a different conclusion about what the elephant is. In some versions, they fight over it; in others, they come to a combined understanding.

In this chapter, we address some elephant-size issues that business needs to size up and manage. Leaders pretend to be blind, acting like they don’t know what these issues are, ...

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