In the context of this blog post, the “Elephant in the Room” is a business expression used to describe a situation, subject or person that everyone perceives as being difficult. Yet no one wants to (or understands how to) formally address the situation. As a result, people are not able to make remarkably productive and profitable professional contributions in the workplace.
Team dysfunction happens. However, in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem, collaboration is the hallmark of team dynamics. The pace and cadence of technology changes make IIoT Elephants in the Room an even greater – and more immediate – liability than they are in other business settings.
Our IIoT Elephant in the Room didn’t waste time. She got right down to work.
Without greeting me or making eye contact, she immediately started to re-arrange the materials I had brought to the conference room. Then she sat down at the head of the table, where my own notebook and writing implements already were placed.
I continued to observe as the rest of the team slowly trickled into the conference room. They went straight to the coffee and breakfast snacks, chatting animatedly with each other.
Then, one by one, they glanced at the conference room table where The Elephant was sitting (apparently in what she thought was my chair).
First, one brave team member took his seat at the opposite end of the table, as far away as he could get. Then, the next few team members sat down next to him. Their actions left a gap of unfilled seats along the sides of the oval table.
Finally the stragglers arrived. They visibly flinched as they assessed their seating options in that large conference room, along that long oval table.
Do you work with the IIoT Elephant in the Room? Then, download this IIoT team dynamics assessment tool to identify those Elephants. Start to address the situation today before it becomes untenable tomorrow.
Is this scenario I describe familiar?
What seat would you choose, under similar circumstances? Are you the individual seated at the far end of the table (even though he, literally, is face-to-face with The Elephant)? Why do you suppose the rest of the team avoids sitting close to The Elephant?
Alternatively, are you that original attendee who seats herself at the head of the table? In doing so, in her perspective, she usurps someone else’s staked out claim (notebook and writing materials) to that space at the table.
After all, sitting at the head of the table indicates authority. The Elephant in the Room typically has a strong case of self-assumed authority – no matter where they choose to sit.
Finally, what workplace culture created the ideal setting for this team’s dysfunctional behavior? Not only that. A set of behavioral dysfunction which merited calling in an external consultant.
Are you the IIoT Elephant in the Room? Do you recognize yourself in these scenarios? Why remain stuck in this situation? Download my industrial Internet of Things team assessment tool (and it works for other types of teams, too).
An IIoT Elephant in the Room tends to be a naysayer and negative by nature. They perceive themselves as the only person capable of leading a team out of chaos into orderly, conventional enlightenment. As a result, they fearlessly and rudely disrupt others. Ultimately, these Naysayer Elephants drain the lifeblood out of the teams they work with. Consequently, their ideas dominate anyone else’s alternative proposed solutions. They stifle creativity, collaboration and innovation.
Alternatively, the IIoT Elephant in the Room is not a person, but a legacy value or bias influencing the processes a team uses to make decisions. When The Elephant in the Room is Bias, all conversations eventually seek a common pathway back to what is comfortable: the status quo. That biased mindset, or “but we’ve always done things this way” attitude, is comfortable to everyone. Comfort overrules creativity, collaboration and innovation.
Finally, the Elephant in the Room represents an Us versus Them cultural norm reinforced by a siloed business model. This cultural norm pits team members from one department against another, due to differences in professional approaches to problem-solving. This type of legacy mindset impacts team output, customer retention and customer loyalty.
Liberate yourself from the IIoT Elephant in the Room – even if that elephant is you.
Let it suffice to say that during our day-long workshop, the team wrestled with issues impacting collaboration, creativity and innovation. Everyone made long-overdue hard calls about their professional development.
Also, more than one Elephant in the Room self-identified! In addition, during the course of our workshop, we changed the location of our seats! More than once.
If you wrestle with frustrating issues and difficult people in the workplace, don’t go it alone. Read this IIoT Team Dynamics Assessment Tool, for starters. This tool provides a place to start thinking – and then talking – about factors which impede productive and profitable team dynamics.
Sometimes, you realize that the biggest IIoT Elephant in the Room just may be you.
A little bit of self-discovery goes a long way, professionally. Why not move your mindset forward and become part of a remarkable team instead of a dysfunctional one?
Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional sales operations team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. She connects the dots between leadership, human capital / HR strategy and developing a data-driven, team-based workforce committed to creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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