Janet, a director at ENCompetent Inc., summons Max to her office one morning. Max, a frontline manager, arrives at the door but he can hardly see Janet because she is working behind a giant red exercise ball that takes up most of the space on her desk.


“What’s with the red ball?” Max asks.


Janet looks back at him blankly, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“The red ball sitting on your desk. The one crowding out everything else in the room.”


“Red ball… red ball. Oh! You mean our new company initiative, The Crimson Sphere.”


“The what?”


“Seriously, Max, you need to get on board. Leadership alignment was achieved on this months ago. Did you really think it wouldn’t affect us?”


“But… it is a red ball, right?”


“I don’t see a red ball, Max. I see a Crimson Sphere with a capital “C” “S”. Isn’t this the Crimson Sphere Initiative? I don’t have the bandwidth to fight corporate on this.”


“OK… it’s a Crimson Sphere. Who owns it?”


“Well,” Janet says, “The company has initiated the Crimson Sphere Initiative with full support from executive leadership.”


“That’s great, but is it yours? Or should I say, is it ours?”


“Well of course! Everyone is expected to do their part. The Crimson Sphere Initiative is essential to organizational success. Committees are being formed. Action planning is underway. And I need you to be prepared. We need to show up well for this.”


“OK,” Max says, “What do you want me to do?”


“Do? It’s the Crimson Sphere Initiative, Max. We don’t need to do, anything. Except, well, I have one for you here. It’s a little smaller than mine. Also, here are some others to share with your team.”


“And you want me to…”


“Put it on your desk, of course. Communicate it. And then wait. Corporate will have more on this coming soon. Oh, and ask Alissa to please come in next.”


Max dutifully takes the Crimson Sphere and puts it on his desk. His is about the size of a basketball, big enough to where he has to re-arrange his work to make it fit. Some items end up going into a file drawer where they will never again emerge. About ten minutes go by when Jana, one of his direct reports comes in.


“What’s all this I’m hearing about a ruby globe initiative?” she says. “People are really worried about it. They’re saying we could have layoffs. And why do you have a red balloon on your desk?”


Max sighs and shrugs his shoulders, responding with the only concrete pieces of information he possesses, “It’s not a ruby globe initiative, and that’s not a red balloon. It’s a Crimson Sphere. My guess is that we’ve got HR to blame for this one. Oh, and here’s a red marble for your desk.”


“So,” Jana says cautiously, “You’re not saying that we won’t have layoffs.”



I thought it would be fun to write something along the lines of “find what’s wrong” puzzles. I tried to fit in as many mass internal communication errors as I credibly could into this short anecdote. Your feedback in the comments section are welcome as always.