The Duck Technique

duckPeople often meddle with your work in internal comms.

Just like dogs can’t resist peeing on lampposts, managers can’t resist making changes to people’s work – however trivial – just to feel like they’re participating.

You’ll never beat this entirely. But you can manage the problem using the ‘duck technique’.

The duck technique is where you deliberately add an element you expect to be sacrificed.

Quoted from Jeff Atwood’s blog, Coding Horror:

“It was well known that producers (a game industry position roughly equivalent to project manager) had to make a change to everything that was done. The assumption was that subconsciously they felt that if they didn’t, they weren’t adding value.

The artist working on the queen animations for Battle Chess was aware of this tendency, and came up with an innovative solution. He did the animations for the queen the way that he felt would be best, with one addition: he gave the queen a pet duck. He animated this duck through all of the queen’s animations, had it flapping around the corners. He also took great care to make sure that it never overlapped the “actual” animation.

Eventually, it came time for the producer to review the animation set for the queen. The producer sat down and watched all of the animations. When they were done, he turned to the artist and said, “That looks great. Just one thing: get rid of the duck.”

Have fun deciding on your duck!

Comments are closed.