A short read for leaders. Curated by Brian Cooke and published biweekly on Fridays. Free.


Four Blind Men and an Elephant

What do you believe that may not be true?

There is a simple story told with variations in many cultures about four blind men and an elephant. I like to discuss this parable with leaders because it highlights the hazards of misperception and the challenge of decision-making based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

As the parable goes, four blind men encounter a large, strange object, and try to identify it by feel.

While one blind man grabs the elephant's tail, another man touches its tusks, yet another man grabs its leg, and a fourth man pats its side.

Each man is certain they can identify the large object based on their own observation.

Of course, they say it's a snake, a spear, a stump, or a wall!

But the men do not accurately identify the elephant because each man touches a different part of the animal and none of them connect their diverse observations to reveal the big picture.

This story reminds us that smart as we may be, we only see a small part of our big, complex, dynamic world.

The parable is also a cautionary tale for senior executives because the blind men eventually agree with their most powerful colleague who insists the animal was a snake.

And they are all wrong!

~ bc 😉



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