UPDATE: This morning I posted a comment on IABC's LinkedIn page, the main forum for conversation about the association. I linked to this page. Someone removed the comment. This afternoon I posted another comment, noting that my first comment was taken down. That comment was removed too. This is just the latest and smallest example of the goonish behavior that's a smear on the ideals of professional communicators who I have long revered in IABC. If those communicators will stand for this kind of thing, where will they draw the line? As e.e. cummings' Olaf (upon what were once knees) did ceaselessly repeat, "there is some shit I will not eat." —DM
I have heard of "action verbs," but I've never seen "action" used as a verb. That is, until I read this paragraph, written over the weekend by Chris Sorek, the executive director of the International Association of Business Communicators:
"MOOCs are here to stay. How do we take advantage the trend? This is one way of providing professional development. And, as we continually look at how we can keep IABC relevant to both current and future members, on-line education will need to be seriously considered as we prepare to action the Career Road Map strategy."
What are you doing in there, Dad?
If you must know, I'm seriously considering my MOOCs as I prepare to action the Restroom Refuse Removal strategy.
But his use of "action" as a verb is only one reason that I fear Chris Sorek is not enough of a communicator at heart to ever satisfy the members of a communication association.
There are other things communicators do that Sorek doesn't.
Like, Tweet. For all Sorek's talk about the importance of the "digital space," he has Tweeted only 56 times in his life—and hasn't done so since June 29.
Okay, maybe Sorek is old-school, and prefers to have face-to-face or phone conversations. I could respect that.
But then why did he not take up Julie Freeman, his longtime predecessor, on her offer at last year's World Conference in Chicago, to pick her brain any time, on the finer points of piloting the association that she ran for more than a decade? I talked to her; damn if she knows.
And why wouldn't he call up Freeman's predecessor Lou Williams, who deftly steered the association through its last catastrophe and culture change, a dozen years ago? The lion in winter is available by cell phone, but he hasn't heard from Sorek, before or after the recent IABC crisis broke.
"I think they're in deep shit," Williams told me last week. "They're playing [with IABC] like this is a toy. It's not a toy! Culture is important."
Williams is an IABC Fellow. That's the association's lifetime achievement designation, held by IABC's most esteemed senior statesmen and -women. Williams has heard rumors that they're changing the way Fellows are elected, but he's not sure how they're going to do it. He isn't even sure he's attending the annual Fellows' Dinner at the World Conference in June. He's a woodworker, and there's an American Association of Woodturners meeting around that time, where he knows he's wanted.
Doesn't it seem to you that a communicator—especially one planning on making big organizational change—would have spent his first few weeks at IABC reaching out to Freeman and Williams and all of the Fellows and everybody else who's influential at IABC and outlined his plans, welcomed their advice and sought their support? But the Fellows and influentials I know have felt out of Sorek's loop from the get-go.
And now he wonders why he's having a hard time generating support for his new ideas. And of course he'll blame the old timers, for being resistant to change.
Not that that's new. It's what non-communicators in charge always do.
As opposed to communicators in charge, who amaze people with how much they share, not how little. (Did anyone read Groupon CEO Andrew Mason's resignation letter last week?) Who startle people with the clarity they bring to issues. Who engage critics directly. Who listen hard, and then they impress people with how much they hear and how well they integrate everyone's best ideas into the next round of communications regarding the next round of actions.
So maybe Sorek's just not a communication guy. That doesn't mean he's a bad guy or even, necessarily, a bad leader; he might be a great coordinator of operations or a brilliant strategist or a great market analyst. Such people have led bigger and better organizations than IABC to great things.
And maybe that's just what IABC needs right now.
But I do wonder how long a non-communicator can lead an association of communicators without running seriously afoul of the sensibilities of the members? I think we're about to find out.
Communicators communicate. Or, as Sorek would say, communicators action communication.