Among the many cliches offered by the presenter, I smiled at her description of what it would be like during an upcoming major software deployment. She said people would be “running around like chickens with their heads cut off.”
I was suddenly struck by how brutal the saying really is, yet it’s so old and worn out that we hardly give it any thought, either in expressing it or hearing it. But, let’s not forget: we’re referring to the decapitation of living creatures, and finding amusement in their ghastly reflexive behavior. We’ve so “dehumanized” these feathery innocents in the service of our chicken nugget habit that their grotesque deaths are simply a placeholder for general confusion and disorder.
Maybe it’s apt, though.
Maybe in our workplaces, we’re like chickens in various stages of processing. Many of us have effectively had our heads lopped off; we just don’t realize it yet. We scramble around from cubes to meetings, flapping our wings in distress, not understanding that it’s all over for us.
We’re already dead. It is only habit that keeps us moving.
This is one of the reasons we use so many cliches, since they’re a strong habit and you don’t need your head for them. When it comes to cliches, some people favor war metaphors over poultry-related inspiration. They’ll launch them from the carrier and carpet bomb meetings and emails with heavy ordnance.
There’s no need to limit yourself to one or the other. You can mix bombs and animal husbandry. Feel free to have people running around like chickens with their heads cut off in the command center. We can always convene a war room to get our ducks in a row.
Go ahead: Knock yourself out.
Cut off your head.
Yes! Let’s work on that one as a new saying.
Say it casually to people when you might have said, “Go for it,” or “Knock yourself out.”
“Cut off your head, man.”
Be exuberant about it:
“Yeah, sure! Cut off your head!”
You might get some strange looks now, but in a few hundred years it will probably go unnoticed.