Confront the Brutal Facts and Expel the Elephants

Companies can unwittingly be a safe haven for problems, personalities, belief systems or behaviors that are so obvious yet no one wants to address them. These elephants in the room are detrimental to business performance if they are not purged from the organization.

Are you harboring elephants in your hallways and boardrooms? If so, confront the brutal facts, identify them and begin methodically expelling them from your business. This may involve difficult decisions but harboring elephants will only hold you back while simultaneously frustrating talented employees who will simply come to believe that substandard performance is acceptable.

Ask yourself, does it make sense to keep this product, person, belief system or behavior if they are really not adding value and contributing to the success of your company? If the answer is “no,” why keep barriers to progress, performance and results in place?

Identify The Elephants

Organizational elephants can take many forms. They could be:

  • A person who has been in the company far too long; it could even be one of the first employees
  • Unprofitable products or lines of business that everyone knows are failing but they do not want to eliminate; it could even be the product that started it all for your company but is no longer a hot seller in the market
  • Processes or systems that have a loyal following despite the clear lack of value they contribute to the organization
  • An acquisition or investment that really does not fit with your core business strategy
  • Partnerships or joint ventures that are in name only
  • Suppliers that no longer add value

In every quarterly meeting, ensure the executive team talks about the biggest elephants in the room, or as Jim Collins says “confront the brutal facts.” Initially there are never any, but after an awkward 30 second silence, there are always one or two.

What are your elephants?