- Written by webster
This one is my second favorite term, after green weenie. Herding cats is a tough chore. In business, it translates as managing a group of people that are hard to control or direct. Imagine trying to keep dozens of cats all headed in the same direction focused on the same results. I first heard it applied during a discussion of a consolidation of a bunch of mom-and-pop salvage yards. The owners stayed on. They all had their own ideas of how to run the consolidated business. Though not technically wrong, as most of them had been successful managers, they held sharply different ideas on running the business. Following the consolidation, each previous owner continued running his operation as a freestanding unit and resisted standard practices and directives issued from headquarters. Now that would be a CEO’s herding nightmare! The term can also mean trying to direct employees who don’t work well together. My favorite use of the term, however, came in a memo about private stock placements. A decision was needed on whether to offer $1 million either in $250,000 shares to four investors or in $10,000 shares to 100 investors. Investors always have their own ideas about how things should be done, what went wrong and how you could have done better. Each will want to have his or her hand held and get regular progress reports. The business decided that if you’re going to herd cats, four is much easier, so he turned down all the small investors. Herding 100 shareholders is impractical, if not impossible, and will definitely drive one crazy.
Use: “Trying to coordinate all those investors has been as hard as herding cats — and about as effective.”