The Black Elephant is a combination of two common phrases.
The “elephant sitting in the room” is the thing which everybody knows is important but nobody will talk about. It is a taboo.
The “black swan” is an extreme or unlikely event which shreds prior risk management strategies.
A “black elephant” – the phrase came out of an Institute for Collapsonomics meeting with @dougald, @freecloud, @hexayurt, @LloydDavis & @MikeBennet – is an event which is extremely likely and widely predicted by experts, but people attempt to pass it off as a black swan when it finally happens. Usually the experts who had predicted the event – from the economic crisis to pandemic flu – go from being marginalized to being lionized when the problem finally rears its head.
Right now, our society is littered with black elephants. Can you name yours?