The other day I related an observation a client and I cooked up about getting one’s ducks in a row. Baby ducks line up easily, but they don’t fly. Cute little aphorism, eh? There’s a growing awareness in the business world about taking too much effort to prepare, to make sure that everything is perfect, before launching a venture.  Forbes magazine ran an article on the subject a few months ago.

I am interested in why many people I have known (alright, have been) have, at various times in their lives, fallen into the trap of getting The Big Idea and having it become The Big Plan, with endless iterations, simulations, provisos and contingencies, but no actual movement. The Big Idea becomes  the Big Plan, and that becomes, over time,  Vague Memory.

My brand new  Turducken Model of Inactive Planning works like this:

  1. Big Idea. We fall in love with the big idea, until something triggers the Saboteur voice, who shouts (or even worse, whispers!)  That Big Idea? It’s a TURKEY! no WAY that thing will work! 
  2. Inspired Idea Person (IIP)  responds to saboteur: Oh, yeah? (Do you hear the hint of fear in the voice?) I’ll prove that it is not! I will plan so carefully that my Big Idea (Turkey!) can’t possibly fail! (See also, worn old comic tropes, “what could possibly go wrong!” )
  3. So the IIP starts to plan and plan and prepare and prepare, stuffing the Big Idea (Turkey!) with the Ducks! (for the sake of my little metaphor, let’s remove one “s”, shall we? Duck! )

But, see, the Duck doesn’t stuff so easily,  because, unbeknownst to the IIP, the Saboteur has stuffed the Duck full of Chicken! That’s right. The ducks, in this case, (you’ll notice I added the “s” back in.) aren’t being lined up in a row. They are concealing the chicken, that lies at the heart of this whole sad IIP/Saboteur drama. So…the duck is too stiff and bloated to fit into the turkey, the IIP gets exhausted (see, in the REAL Turducken, you BONE the birds to make it possible to stuff them inside each other!) So nothing happens. So, maybe the IIP realises: “Duh! I gotta bone these birds to make this work!” The IIP, so enamored with having solved the problem of stuffing the turkey with the duck, doesn’t stop to consider the lurking chicken, but instead embarks on a knife wielding rampage, deboning with abandon. Well, bones provide the strength, the substance….And the IIP ends up with a big flabby mess, and maybe a seriously cut finger, or a huge mess of deboned idea, bloated duck, and lurking chicken. (I am not a real fan of Turducken, you see.)14343_1278846375040_5473385_n

Alright. This blog post isn’t perfect. But hopefully it will provide  a bit of food for thought to go with all the yummy stuff you may plan to eat this week.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Baby Ducks, all in a row…

I learn so much from my clients.

In a conversrubber-duckation just now, we were talking about getting all of one’s ducks in a row before launching an exciting idea. She said: “Ducks don’t really line up very well.” I blurted: “Baby ones do….but they don’t fly.”

We had a good laugh, and she basically demanded that I get that idea out there through my blog.  So here it is. The metaphor is yours, dear friends, to do with as you will…