I started using the Moose-on-the-Table metaphor in the mid to late nineties when helping management teams identify and address the issues that were getting in the way of higher performance. Just like dysfunctional families, many such teams find it easier to avoid tough conversations. But rarely do problems get better when left unaddressed. Rather, the moose grow larger, breed, and increase the size of the herd.
I had an idea bubbling in the back of my mind for maybe ten years of using the fable approach or a fictional story to explore these themes. But it really kicked into gear as I was writing Growing the Distance and The Leader’s Digest and using some fiction in some of the sidebar stories. I actually created, Frank, a fictional character in both books in the chapters on Spirit and Meaning to convey the key ideas behind these more ephemeral topic areas.
I used Frank’s story to discuss different scenarios through a series of little vignettes. It was really my first experience writing any kind of fiction and I really enjoyed it.
A few years before that, I heard the Moose-on-the-Table analogy from a group participating in one of my Pathways to Performance workshops. The image of a moose on a table really struck a chord with that audience, so I started using this analogy in other workshops and it really connected with people all over the world.
I’ve long said that stories and metaphors are the language of leadership. When you’re talking about management you’re talking about facts and figures and business cases and the usual PowerPoint stuff.
But leadership is different. Leadership deals with issues of the heart. Since time began the way these more conceptual ideas and values have been conveyed is through stories.
I really felt I could put together a story that would be fun and quirky but at the same time be woven around real case study-type material, showing how the leadership principles The CLEMMER Group uses in our training, workshops, and consulting work can be brought to life to reach readers in a way that drier approaches can’t.
The new web site, www.mooseonthetable.com, is also a marked departure from what readers have come to expect. For one thing, we’re actually giving this book away for free one chapter at a time. Over the course of the next sixteen weeks, you will have an opportunity to download a PDF of a new chapter each Monday. At the same time you can also purchase a special pre-release copy of the book, e-book, or audio book directly from the site.
As an added feature, each week, we’ll also be posting a new and brief (most are about ninety seconds) video with me introducing the latest chapter and explaining how its core messages or concepts work into the narrative, along with the key themes you can take away from it.
The moose site also has links to all the moose-related articles, workshop and seminar material you’ll find on our main site. You can complete an exercise to help you see how much of a moose problem you may have in your office.
Here is a brief outline of the book and a short video of myself introducing the metaphor.
As an athlete, family man, and star employee, Pete Leonard had it all. But now the years and years of going along to get along are taking their toll.
His second marriage is as shaky as his right hand after a night spent coddling a bottle, his employees think he’s a joke, and his boss is just looking for an excuse to show him the door.
Can things get any worse? Well, how would you feel if you actually started seeing moose around your office?
Moose on the Table is one manager’s story of finding and overcoming fear – one tiny step at a time. Come along as Pete learns to face the moose threatening the communications and effectiveness of his department, organization – and even his life.
If you want to learn more you’ll find the entire preface (along with Chapter 1) available online at www.mooseonthetable.com