Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I love to play with words and enjoy when I come across a creative arrangement that puts something common into new perspective. Like a Seinfeld television episode, a Simon & Garfunkel song, a Maya Angelou poem, or a Dilbert comic strip, creative play with words can causes us to think differently about something we might otherwise dismiss through a general inattention that sometimes develops through the speed of daily life. I recently came across one such arrangement of words that reminded me of a fable that I hadn’t come across in years.

As an undergraduate, I was told by my career counselor not to major in communications. He said, “You need a skill. After all, look at us now, we are already communicating!” I’m glad I didn’t take his advice because in every college I’ve worked, “communication” always seems to be the “thing” we need to improve the most. Organizations are comprised of people –with all our gifts and gaps.  As much as organizational communication can be improved, individual communication is the mostly frequently used form of communication, and yet, the hardest one to improve on any large scale. I think it falls short when we don’t take the extra time to ask one more question, or confirm what we’ve heard and what we’ve decided. This shortcoming is best illustrated in the old story about Everyone, Anyone, Someone, and No One (I couldn’t find the author for attribution.)

“Once upon a time, there was a big job to do and Everyone was responsible for completing it. But Everyone figured that since Someone was bound to do it (Someone always did), Everyone didn’t have to. Of course, Anyone could have done the job, but as it turned out, No One did.  This made Someone quite angry because it had been made clear that it was Everyone’s responsibility, not just Anyone’s. Yet No One had envisioned that Everyone would skip out on the assignment. When an explanation was asked for, Everyone pointed a finger at Someone only to be told that No One had managed to do what Anyone could have done.”

I feel the pain in the simplicity and the truth of that story. Hopefully, each of us can think about how to help Anyone be more successful. If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.