Somebody wanted to write this blog post…

Several years ago, I read a book by the minister Tony Evans. In the book, Evans shares a little parable about four people in a church — people with the unusual names of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

FingerPointingThat story resonated with me at the time and continues to do so. And not just because of its intended spiritual application.

I have found, over the years, that Evans’ little parable applies far beyond the world of church or religious life. (Most good parables do.) It also applies to matters of work, family, voluntarism, and probably many other arenas of life. Lately, I’ve found that it applies quite a bit to the process by which projects move along — or fail to move along — in a higher ed work environment.

A quick Google search helped me locate that story (it’s toward the bottom of this post). Here’s a snippet of Evans’ version:

The story is told of four people in the church whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

The church needed help meeting its financial obligations and Everybody was asked to participate. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But you know who did it? Nobody. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

When the church grounds needed some work, Somebody was asked to help. But Somebody resented being called upon because Anybody could have done it just as well. After all, it was really Everybody’s job. In the end the work was given to Nobody, and Nobody got it done.

The process went on and on. Whatever the task that needed to be done, Nobody could be counted on to do it.

Sound familiar?

Maybe we could recast that story for the modern world of higher education. Here’s my attempt:

The story is told of four people on a university committee whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

The committee approved a strategic action plan and the chair decided the committee needed to get the word out across campus about this fabulous new strategic action plan. (After all, this plan was not your run-of-the-mill strategic plan, because it also included the word “action” in its description. So it was obviously an important document.)

Everybody was asked to help spread the word. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But you know who did it? Nobody. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Whatever the task that needed to be done, Nobody could be counted on to do it.

How about you? Do you have a story about these four people you’d like to share? Feel free to comment.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

2 thoughts on “Somebody wanted to write this blog post…”

  1. While the story is well thought out. It seems a bit pessimistic. While it is true. Here is a more positive and hopeful spin on it.

    The story is told of four people on at a university during the start of a branding initiative whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

    The university needed help developing its brand and Somebody was asked to participate. Everybody was sure that Anybody would champion the brand. The brand would not survive if Nobody took part. But you know who lead the charge, Somebody. It ended up that Nobody was silent when Everybody participated and did what Anybody would have done.

    When it was time to launch the brand. Everybody was asked to help. And Nobody resented being called upon because Somebody always had Anybody’s back. After all, it was really Everybody’s brand. In the end, the brand belonged to Everybody while Anybody could step in and own it.

    The brand went on and on. Whenever the brand was in trouble, Everybody and Anybody could be counted on to help.

  2. Travis – I was certain that Nobody would comment on this blog post, although Anybody could have, and I was hoping that Everybody would. And now Somebody has — and true to form of a positive-spirited brand manager, reframed the story in a more hopeful manner. Thanks for being that Somebody, Travis. I hope Everybody reads your comment and takes it to heart.

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