You’ve probably seen this poem about four characters: Anybody, Somebody, Everybody & Nobody:
"A Poem About Responsibility" by Charles Osgood
There was a most important job that needed to be done,
And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
Is who exactly will it be who’ll carry out the task?
Anybody could have told you that everybody knew
That this was something somebody would surely have to do.
Nobody was unwilling; anybody had the ability.
But nobody believed that it was their responsibility.
It seemed to be a job that anybody could have done,
If anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
But since everybody recognized that anybody could,
Everybody took for granted that somebody would.
But nobody told anybody that we are aware of,
That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
And nobody took it on himself to follow through,
And do what everybody thought that somebody would do.
When what everybody needed so did not get done at all,
Everybody was complaining that somebody dropped the ball.
Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
And everybody looked around for somebody to blame.
Somebody should have done the job
And Everybody should have,
But in the end Nobody did
What Anybody could have.
When it comes to obvious operational tasks, roles and responsibilities, this is blatantly obvious. What about when it comes to the less obvious, more abstract challenges and conceptual tasks which are integral to developing our organizational agility – conceiving our business differently, driving different conversations about diverse aspects of our business and navigating the change leadership and change management challenges? Then we are so much more prone to the Anybody, Somebody, Everybody & Nobody syndrome captured by the poem.
That’s the purpose of Traction Planning (Traction Planning for the Agility Advantage) to guard against that tendancy: capturing "light-bulbs" the moment they start flickering on, no matter how conceptually and abstractly; making sure that someone is tasked with driving the thought-leadership and action-leadership on that item; fitting it within the ongoing, dynamic process of triage of our overall journey challenge.
The Traction Plan is a container for accumulating that intellectual property and, in particular, mastering the detail-complexity and dynamic-complexity which comes with it, preventing overwhelm. Without a Traction Plan, try introducing the flickering light-bulb of a new idea to a team that is already feeling overwhelmed, to some degree, and you are likely to be met with blank stares and averted eye-contact – that’s the beginning of the Anybody, Somebody, Everybody & Nobody syndrome captured by the poem.