Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How To Eat An Elephant, Revisited (Part II)

(Please click and read this personal word from me about my upcoming India Mission Trip.)

So you have a task in front of you. It may be small, or it may be elephant-size. Your job is to solve the problem, to divide and conquer, to eat the elephant, one bite at a time.

In my last post I raised some questions about the idea of how to eat an elephant. Allow me now to offer some alternatives to eating the elephant when solving problems.

Something that has helped me in problem solving has been to apply some creative energy to the challenge by moving through this process:

Assess - This step is imperative in problem solving and elephant eating. A critical eye, looking at various angles through multiple "lenses" will reveal the true nature of the problem. A bigger pump is needed to keep the water barrel full? Perhaps something as simple as a cork to plug the hole in the barrel is all that's needed. We need to look at the elephant closely, and make sure it really is an elephant. If wolves can come in sheep's clothing, than surely a flock of birds can come dressed as an elephant.

Appropriate - Once you decide the best solution to the problem, determine what resources will be needed to fulfill your goals. Again, creativity is a valuable asset. You may not have the financial resources available to "get what you need". If you are really trying to remove an elephant from the room, instead of hiring a bunch of hungry people to eat it, try tempting the elephant with a handful of hay and lead it out.

Appeal - Here is where creativity is the most valuable tool you can carry on your belt. Once you assess the problem and determine what the real need is, develop a creative option to bring about the desired result without having to put on a bib and start dipping elephant meat in barbecue sauce. Appeal to those you need to convince that your alternative is valid (your boss, your team, those you lead, etc.). Can you bring about the same (desired) result with a different strategy?

Attack - At some point you must act. Critical assessment, creative appropriation, and legitimate appeal are worthless unless you execute. Many leaders and creatives never become great leaders and great creatives because they didn't move forward with their plans and ideas. And it needs to be more than a casual attempt at getting something done. You must be committed to the process, and willing to do whatever is necessary remove the elephant. Even if it means eating it, one bite at a time.

Question: What have been your alternatives to eating the elephantShare your thoughts below in comments.

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Bryan Campbell said...

I agree that the how to eat an elephant phrase is a problematic but I was hoping you had an alternative pithy statement.

Brad Lewis said...

Sorry Bryan, I can only offer the body of my post. Thank you for your comment.

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