Inside Track: Why The Gun? or The Parable Of The Moose

Over a dynamic dinner with a group of designers, master storyteller, Stefan Mumaw, author of “Caffeine for the Creative Mind” and “Chasing the Monster Idea”, related the following true tale…

Stefan was playing in a basketball tournament in Anchorage Alaska. The team members were staying at the homes of generous Anchorage residents and Stefan found himself awkwardly trying to make small talk with his host. Noticing the biggest handgun he had ever seen on the top of a china cabinet, Stefan asked his host what he had the gun for.

“See that window in the kitchen door down the hall?”, the host responded. “Go pull back the curtain.”

A little nervous, but intrigued nonetheless, Stefan cautiously approached the door and drew back the curtains. Peering intently through the fog covered glass, Stefan almost jumped back at the sight of 2 huge pulsating nostrils. He looked closer and saw an enormous moose, it’s massive frame perched squarely on the back porch, calmly warming it’s nose on in the inviting kitchen door window.

Walking back and shakily sitting back down on the living room couch he turned to his host who explained, “One day that moose just may figure out that he can bust through that door with not much more than a tap – that’s why I got the gun.”

With only the best of intentions, I’d propose that most in-house designers are like the moose; creative powerhouses who may not recognize their true innovative potential and are pressing their collective noses against a self-imposed glass wall that separates them from the higher-level strategic positions and roles they desire within their companies.

I’d urge anyone for whom this analogy fits, to take stock of their currently hidden creative and strategic problem-solving talents, embrace them and crash through that thin glass wall right into your corporation’s boardroom.

5 thoughts on “Inside Track: Why The Gun? or The Parable Of The Moose

  1. jana

    One wonders why the board is so terrified of the moose/designer? The designer clearly has no fear of the boardroom. All s/he wants is a few carrots, maybe a stoke on the nose.

  2. Chipmunk

    Love both of your comments, Jana! Never occurred to me that we moose/designers could be scary…

    So, how do we bridge the perception of potentially-out-of-control-sheer-creativity and tame it enough so it’s welcome in the boardroom….yet still be a moose?

  3. Kristin

    I’ve found this to be a real fear … just last month on a national marking conference call. Designers were lambasted for being too creative and need to be reigned in to support brand standards and templates.

    (Of course a good designer is in support of the brand, and more knowledgeable about its standards than most other folks in the company … and knows how to push the brand (or the door here) forward with innovation. But we all know this, and I digress…)

    While I think this methaphor is great to shift our perspectives of our role and capabilities, I don’t think aggression the right way to get to that end. What about building relationships, trust, dialouge? Providing outstanding service that speaks for itself?

    Maybe I’m naive, and it does take that aggression to breakthrough, but I can’t help but think a relationship built on trust will enable more innovation in the long run.

    1. Andy Epstein

      I’d be careful not to confuse aggression with assertiveness. My bad if the image of crashing through a glass wall has been interpreted as advocacy for aggression – that was not my intention.

      What I’ve seen most often are in-house designers, when confronted with a challenge by their non-design peers and managers, unable or unwilling to educate others on design, advocate for sound design solutions and debunk myths that their colleagues glom onto.

      The need to establish relationships and trust that you refer to Kristin is critical, but we all need to be prepared intellectually and emotionally to firmly establish ourselves as the design experts and push relentlessly for good design once the door has been opened.