Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Balanced Approach to Problem Solving: Elephant Analogy

|"When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail."

Post written by Anshul Gupta. Follow me on twitter.

Let me explain, what is an Elephant Analogy?

It is basically a way of looking at things, which is quite narrow in its scope. The analogy with the elephant is that; once a person what asked to identify the parts of an elephant, by touching them one by one.He was not told that its an elephant neither he was allowed to see it. When he touched the leg of the elephant, he said, "It's a pillar!". When he touched the stomach, he said, "It's a wall!". And when he touched the tail, he said, "It's a rope!!!". But when he was allowed to see, nevertheless it had to be an elephant!

Similarly, Consultants tend to suggest solution and then try to fit that solution into the given problem, without truly understanding the problem from its roots. When you go to a marketing consultant, he would suggest a marketing strategy, when you go to a SCM consultant, he would suggest a SCM strategy, and if the SCM consultant is into IT, he would make sure that you end-up implementing a new ERP software!

My whole point is that, there is a need to perceive an elephant as an elephant and not through its body parts. In the absence of an integrated approach, different stake holders look at the same problem quite differently. This leads to chaos, confusion and people pulling in different directions. Many problems that are encountered today are the outcomes of this narrow sub-systems thinking. A transformational change of mind-set would look at the problems in its totality. This will lead to a balanced approach to development.

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