The term “pecking order” was introduced by Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe in 1921 under the German terms Hackordnung or Hackliste, and brought into English in 1927. Schjelderup-Ebbe studied chickens and how they express dominance via pecking. He found that chickens typically have a pecking order that runs 15 deep. This pecking order allows for a more effective use of energy and resources when they are scarce, and reduces risk of injury–since the predetermined hierarchy discourages fighting over food or mates.
In The Dark
The social hierarchy of chickens tends to fall apart, however, when they’re in the dark. The pecking order goes from 15 deep to 3 deep. As a result, more fighting occurs and the health of the chickens declines.
Shine a Little Light
Leave it to some ingenious Minnesotans to come up with a way to literally shine a light on this issue and those chickens. By shining LED lights on the chickens, they become less aggressive and re-establish their pecking order.
What’s the Pecking Order in Your Company?
When organizations are not clear about roles, accountability, and authority, they tend to act aggressively and inefficiently. They lose time and energy, and they risk injury (more emotional than physical). When a company has a clear organizational chart and complete job descriptions that outline roles, however, employees tend to be more accountable, efficient, and content. They stop fighting each other for kernels.