Whose job is it? or The Responsibility Poem illustration: four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. Everybody is given a job but in the end Nobody takes responsibility for it

Whose job is it?

There’s an old short story called “Whose job is it?” that goes like this:

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

It used to be up on the wall in my secondary school many years ago. Its message of taking ownership and responsibility and not assuming others will do what you don’t want to do has stuck with me ever since.

It’s rather like the famous advice to be the change you wish to see happen. Litter doesn’t clean itself up. Broken things don’t fix themselves. It might be up to you. (see the Bystander effect)

The story seems to be a condensed version of a longer piece by Charles Osgood called "The Responsibility Poem," though I couldn't find an original source anywhere.

Also see: For want of a nail, the story spine, the Accountability Ladder, RACI

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