The Thin Book of Naming Elephants

How To Surface Undiscussables for Greater Organizational Skill


By Sue Annis Hammond & Andrea B. Mayfield

There's an elephant in the room that everyone knows about but no one is acknowledging. The elephant is implicit and undiscussable and lurks in every organization. Everyone talks around the elephant and thinks that everyone else knows about the elephant. However, until the elephant's presence is made explicit, the level of dialogue and therefore the quality of decision-making is limited. Sound familiar?

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Using NASA's tragic accidents and Enron's bankruptcy as examples of the price of not having open, constructive dialogue, The Thin Book of® Naming Elephants shows how great companies create an environment that encourages and listens to input from all levels of the organization. The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill provides another case study that could apply to any of the concepts in this book.

After reading this book, you'll understand:

  • The role of assumptions and multiple realities;

  • Why surfacing assumptions is so important;

  • How to have constructive conversation;

  • Why arrogance, hubris and smart talk gets in the way of constructive dialogue;

  • What strategies you can use to name the elephants in your organization; and What's in the book...

  • How to use constructive conversation to be creative.

Quantity Discounts

The following quantity discounts are available for all book purchases:

  • 10 to 49 books - 10%
  • 50+ books - 15%

It's easy if you qualify for a discount. Contact us before placing your order. We’ll provide you with a coupon to apply to your order when you check out. We apologize for any inconvenience, but this is due to the limitation of our web hosting provider.

About The Authors

Sue Annis Hammond and Andrea B. Mayfield are collaborating on a number of initiatives. They offer pragmatic people development solutions to achieve individual, team and organizational success.

Sue Annis Hammond is a Change Management Consultant with a unique combination of extensive consulting and entrepreneurial experience. She has more than 30 years of consulting experience, including 10 years of internal work at Meredith Corporation and Principal Financial Group.

Sue is a nationally recognized expert in Appreciative Inquiry, a process that changes the focus from finding out what is going wrong to discovering and expanding best practices in organizations. Her first book The Thin Book of® Appreciative Inquiry is a national bestseller, with sales in excess of 200,000 copies. Sue started Thin Book Publishing in response to the book's success and customer requests for more "thin books". The company is devoted to publishing "just in time" cutting-edge knowledge for organizational clients.

Sue completed a Masters of Organizational Development at Bowling Green Graduate School of Business, where she was the 1991 Minninger Foundation Fellow. She also holds a B.A. and a M.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia, and currently lives in Bend, Oregon. She can be contacted at

Andrea B. Mayfield is an Organization Development Consultant focused on leadership strategy work. With proven skills in leadership development, change management, and executive meeting facilitation, her principal focus is working with leaders to identify, plan and pursue development needs for themselves and their organizations. Her broad experience was developed through internal consulting work with NASA, American Airlines and Mary Kay Cosmetics as well as her external consulting practice. This combination of experiences has equipped her with an understanding of very large, complex organizations as well as fast-paced entrepreneurial settings.

Andrea's consulting services include confidential assistance in evaluating systems, designing strategies for change, and implementing interventions. She designs, manages and evaluates individual and system-wide leadership development programs. Andrea serves as an executive coach to executives in a variety of industries and has built high-potential development programs in large organizations . Andrea has an Organization Development Certificate from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Community Counseling from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in Psychology from Dickinson College. Andrea currently resides in Cappella, Texas, and can be reached at, or at

Both Sue and Andrea offer workshops and keynote speeches on Naming the Elephant and fostering open dialogue in organizations.

Book Facts

Naming Elephants Presentation

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Since The Thin Book of® Naming Elephants was first published, there's been many requests for help in actually designing a presentation for a session to name elephants and improve workplace collaboration. We are pleased to offer this downloadable PowerPoint presentation.

Session Goals

  • Learn to name elephants;
  • Analyze their impact on the organization; and
  • Prepare actions to deal with them.

PowerPoint Presentation Outline

  • Review of session goals
  • Discussion of The Thin Book of Naming Elephants
  • Specific learning points (.e.g., undiscussables, implicit vs. explicit assumptions)
  • Common elephants
  • Important concepts to set the tone (personal intention, organizational savvy, "how to say it")
  • Naming Elephants exercise
  • Recap

Presentation Facts

  • Audience: Anyone who leads or participates in meetings or group discussion
  • Length: 2 -4 hours
  • Suggested Number of participants: 10 to 20 per session
  • Download: This presentation can be downloaded immediately after completing your order and includes:
    • PowerPoint presentation (Windows format;self-executing; PowerPoint not required); includes extensive facilitator notes in the "notes" view
    • Additional facilitator notes (pdf format)
    • Slides handout (3 per page; pdf format)
    • Naming Elephants Worksheet (pdf format)
  • The Thin Book of Naming Elephants book is best used as a pre-read to the session and will result in a much richer dialogue.
  • By purchasing this product, you can use the PowerPoint presentation multiple times, but not duplicate the file for someone else.
  • This material is protected by the copyright laws.