Elephant? What Elephant?
If youve ever been in group therapy, or if youve just been part of a group at work or in a professional organization, you may have run into the nagging dilemma of “the elephant in the room.”
This “elephant” is a significant issue, problem or question that is quite obvious to everyone present, yet no one seems to want to talk about it. And usually the elephant problem is so big and so important that the group is powerless to make any progress until the ponderous pachyderm is dealt with. Still, group members refuse to even acknowledge its existence, and conversation is limited to more mundane matters, like who got thrown under the bus on “American Idol” last night.
Why wont people publicly address what they would all privately agree is a significant issue? Usually, the answer is fearfear of criticism, fear of being attacked, fear of looking like a fool, fear of personal ridicule, fear of offending someone, fear of losing a jobthe list is endless.
For example, if youre a member of a group charged with revamping your firms computer systems, the “elephant” might be the fact that, although your group has been given the task of recommending a new system, you and the other group members know full well that your CEO actually doesnt want to replace the present system. Politically within the company, its probably a lot safer to say “How could those idiots vote Aloha off the show?” than it is to say “Why are we wasting our time on this?”
Unfortunately, the problem of “elephants” isnt confined to small groups. Take the case of Alpharetta, Ga.-based ChoicePoint. Just recently, it was reported by MSNBC that criminals posing as legitimate businesses had accessed critical personal data being stored by ChoicePoint, which “maintains databases of background information on virtually every U.S. citizen.”
ChoicePoint also provides risk management and fraud prevention information, primarily to the insurance industry, according to Hoovers Online. Its Insurance Services division provides information that includes motor vehicle reports, claims histories, customized policy rating and insurance software, and property inspections and audits.