(Burn the Boats is an annoying business term and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
Burn the Boats
This annoying phrase originates from the ancient practice of a ship captain (after landing in some new territory) forcing his crew to conquer the enemy (in the case of Cortez scuttling his ships when he landed in Mexico) or to make the most of a difficult transition (in the case of the Bounty mutineers burning their ship when they landed on Pitcarin Island).
The idea is that you burn the boats to remove any opportunity for retreat. This way, your crewmembers are compelled to use every (remaining) available resource to survive.
For your crew at work, your manager commands you to burn the boats to ensure you’re committed to the goal.
An example of this might be when a new process is introduced where the manager is fearful that the team may resort to using the old process at the first sign of discomfort. A commendable strategy for sure, though one that deserves a better appellation… perhaps one from this millennium… perhaps one that’s not so annoying.
Replacement phrases: Commit
See also: Buy-In
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon