Elephant in chains OK so perhaps the title should be “Assumed Constraints and Elephant Thinking” but lets go with it as it stands. I’m pleased the new blog is up and running now and I’m not going to set myself any targets to write a blog a week or anything silly, I’m going to write when I think I’ve got something worth sharing or to help me think…. simple.

Well I’m doing lots of thinking at the moment prompted by things that are happening at work, my experiences at the recent LnD Connect Unconference and the conversations I’ve been having with my trusted PLN. Inspiration is all around us and I’m feeling pretty inspired at the moment. I’ve been inspired and encouraged by the recent comments on my first post and the comments from @Burrough & @Perrytimms is what has prompted me to write this.

@Burrough started things off with his comment;

I think the key point that Damian (@Dames20) and Perry have identified is how kind of events only attract the “enlightened” minds, so unless the people who attend go away with some kind of common purpose that translates into action, they don’t result in any wider change. Even if they do it’s asking a lot for 50 people from disparate backgrounds to change a profession.


Why is it asking a lot for 50 people from a different backgrounds to change a profession? This for me is an assumed constraint that we all suffer from, why can’t one person let alone a small group of people change their methods, approaches to organisational learning or even a whole profession. It’s not really that small, yes there were 30 + people at the unconference but there are 1000’s across the globe all working towards the same thing. Change is in the air and you can either be blowing the gale or be getting blown away.

It was an assumed constraint of mine that I had nothing to say or that no-one would be interested in what I had to say. Who am I to share my thinking and things I’ve been doing? I’ve been in L&D for a mere 6 years so I surely can’t contribute and drive change can I? Wrong, of course I can just like you can, and this links to another of the comments by @Burrough

So it’s more about personal leadership, spreading the word, walking the walk and showing what can be done. But as you and I both know that’s a long and hard road to tread in some organisations.

Yes I couldn’t agree more, it’s been hard work and we’re still on the journey. A journey that has meant at times you are the lone voice and the only person who sees value in doing things differently. Personal leadership for me, is about believing in what you believe in and if others see a genuine passion when and how you walk the walk then they will follow that passion and belief, irrelevant if you’re in a position of power or ‘a leader’. Leadership comes from within and everyone in L&D & HR right now should see themselves as a leader and role model. A leader of change within organisations and a role model for showing what can be done.

I do think elephant thinking affects our professions (and not just ours I hasten to add), in that there are those who are still chained to the post. Blissfully unaware of the possibilities, of the change they could drive and be a part of. Then there are those who may be aware of the possibilities but because of their assumed constraints do nothing about it, “I can’t do that”, “that won’t work”, “I don’t do technology”, “social media is a distraction”, “My organisation won’t / can’t / wouldn’t” – take your pick. It all leads down the same path… the same path that you’ve been going down for the last umpteen years.

For some (maybe the few) the elephant has snapped the chains and bolted, it’s skipped the circus and is now making its’ large presence felt in many ways at unconference events, conferences, tweet ups, tweet chats, in communities and through blogs. The elephants are pretty good at sharing what they do and are making their presence felt so you can imagine what a herd of elephants can do when they’re together – they have the potential to trample old mindsets and assumed constraints like trees in the jungle.

Enough with the elephant analogy but @Perrytimms made me smile when he said;

I’m in this game to create a better future….

I hope every Learning & HR Professional feels like this, feels like they are part of something special and has a chance to change a profession. We certainly aren’t going to do that whilst we think we can’t have an impact or we’re still chained to the post.

Lets get rid of those assumed constraints, lets be brave, lets role model, lets be prepared and recognise it will take some time but let’s keep sharing what we’re doing with as many people as we can in as many different ways as we can. Lets put a stop to elephant thinking and recognise and celebrate new L&D thinking instead.

The only question to ask yourself is are you in this game to create a better future or are you still chained to the post?