(Ducks in a Row 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.)
Ducks in a Row
There are multiple theories you can find online attempting to ascertain the origin of ducks in a row – some even arguing it’s from the 1700s. Frankly, we don’t care where the term originated, just that it exits the lexicon of today’s businesspeople.
Coincidentally, the annoying managers who use this fowl phrase are often the Mother Hen types. That is, they’re those overprotective, caring nurturers whose teams never seem to accomplish much above mediocrity.
Not that it’s a bad thing to care about your team, it isn’t; but the Mother Hens in the business world never seem to let their flock stray too far from the nest. Consequently, their subordinates don’t take risks, so they don’t reap the rewards of the risk-takers.
Mother Hens are best described as the helicopter parents of the business world; and they’re the ones who constantly remind their charges to keep their ducks in a row. Furthermore, these Mother Hens step in and help their teams keep their ducks in a row. Ugh.
To the Mother Hens in business, we can only ask why? Are you afraid one of your baby ducks is going to be savagely eaten by stray fox? Why not drop the Mother Hen act and start leading?
As the old proverb goes, “Put a man’s ducks in a row and you’ll feed him for a day; Hold a man accountable to keeping his own ducks in a row and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”
Or something like that.
Replacement phrases: Orderly; In order; Put first things first
See also: Herding Cats
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon