Last Updated on 22 April 2011

You may have already heard this story in a project management or team-building session. It is told today as several people blindfolded… each standing at a different part of (but not knowing it is) an elephant. From their micro perspective each has a different interpretation.

The Blind Men and the Elephant
[click for larger view]

Author Willard Brinton begins his book Graphic Presentation explaining — in 1939 — the importance of accuracy of presentation of charts to ensure truth and clarity of presentation. Nearly 50 years before PowerPoint – people were monkeying with graphs and charts to present how they wanted the info to be interpreted… What am I thinking? I’m sure there’s a fudged chart of hunting and gathering statistics on cave wall somewhere.

You’ll see in the illustration the story begins, “It was six men of Indostan…” Indostan is an archaic term once referring to the Indostandic Peninsula, the former name of South Asia which includes: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and the Himalayan states Bhutan and Nepal. (thanks Wikipedia!)

This graphic is from the book Graphic Presentation written by Willard C. Brinton in 1939. The original story is “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe.