I tell this story at least once a month and I’ve never actually factually checked the version of the I’ve been telling people. The way I tell the story is as follows:
The story is about an overbearing, micromanaging project manager.
This project manager was leading a project to complete a chess game.
The team of designers and developers knew the project manager would find a way to meddle in details that were outside the scope of the project manager.
So, in this game of chess, they placed a duck right on the board.
The project manager immediately focused in on the duck, who wouldn’t? Because of the focus on the duck, the project manager left everything else alone.
Just before the project shipped it was decided the duck should be removed.
The above is how I’ve always told the story, but it turns out that“The Duck” was a real thing and no where near as dramatic as I’ve made it out to be. To be clear, whilst there is an angle that is painting the project manager to be antagonist in the story, the story is also about selective attention and how to use it to your advantage.