I’m… just not that into you!

Peter Buckley acts as relationship counsellor… p.s. Relate, you can’t have him yet!

Girls.  When a guy doesn’t call you back after a first date, it probably means the date sucked.  Or, as one very successful American author put it…he’s just not that into you.  Now, I’m not one to argue with the intricacies of the single, dating world with it’s debatable protocols of calling, not calling, txting, not txting, must-leave-it-one-day but three-days-is-too-long subtleties found in this one-halfed club but one cannot argue with the validity of such protocols.  So where does that leave our damsel? Well, one cannot come to any other conclusion that after a week or so, the date didn’t go too well and yes, by being not into you, he’d rather be alone!

Clearly, not everybody is meant for every other body, fine, no problem there.  I do however, have a problem with Hollywood’s depiction of love and dating which, distances itself from these protocols and is utterly idealistic at worst, so whilst telling a complete stranger all your idiosyncratic neuroticisms within the first instance of communication may look quirky, cute and all lovey-dovey-rom-commie on the big screen, it is actually, in the real world, a weird and borderline crazy type of behaviour that usually prompts one of those uncomfortably long silences which, I might add, probably inhibits the man’s ability to decipher whether or not he wanted to have sex with you. Of course, not all guys are thinking about sex on the first date (they are really, I was just being PC) but still, it was probably more Girl Interrupted than Notting Hill, never a good thing. The point I’m attempting to make here is simple; the do’s and don’ts of the dating world are not too dissimilar from that of the business world.

Firstly, I feel the need to set some context before your imagination runs wild.  If you’re reading this thinking that I’m about to weirdly and creepily, yet wonderfully compare the art of business to the art of seducing a member of the opposite sex, you’d be wrong, and I’d be slightly worried what sort of blog you think this is.  Shame on you!  Besides, if you’re looking for that sort of craft, you’d need a certain high flying Educational Sector MD for that…!  Instead, what I’m talking about is relationships. Managing relationships and the expectations.

I began by describing a situation wherein one stakeholder expected something from a relationship, the other, something different, and in between these expectations; communication.  It is this communication that is fundamental for competent project management.  In fact, if project management was a wise and old elder, perched high atop the tallest of tall hills, found in the furthest of the furthest lands (which these mythical people always seem to be) to which they could impart just one, vital, piece of wisdom to the lucky, chosen few, it would be exactly this principal: Your relationships are fountains of knowledge and communication controls the flow.

So what exactly does this crypto-mumbo-jumbo mean? Well, it’s a paradigm that can’t really be defined, at least, not with any real conviction. It’s more of an empirical understanding than a scientific one.  It’s like…it’s like…Mojo.  You’ve either got it or you haven’t.  Fortunately, just like Mojo, it is something that can be learnt.  Which is why this week, I’ve mainly been learning about my Mojo!

As a project manager, naturally, I have many responsibilities that require my attention and in order to coordinate these harmoniously, effective and unambiguous communication is paramount.  The small relationship I build with a supplier is a fundamental piece to the project as a whole even if that relationship is just one small piece.  This is because this relationship provides me with a base of knowledge I need in order to determine where the rest of the connecting pieces fit, which will ultimately enable me to complete the larger, grander puzzle.  What makes project management so tricky is many relationships are built upon or reliant upon another.  Think of it this way, when you lose one piece of a real, physical puzzle, you lose that one piece.  When I lose one of my relationships, I lose much more than just that one relationship.  I lose everything that was connected to it.

To understand this better let me try and give you some perspective.  Whilst one, from an outside perspective, might see an entire organisation buy, refurbish and operate an old, historic, Elizabethan manor, what actually happens is completely different.  It is much simpler, it is me, an individual, interacting with another individual who works for a different, separate, organisation and from this small but vital interaction, a web of interconnecting relationships are built with immense emphasis placed upon the founding relationships.  It is this perspective I am trying to describe and it is imperative that you understand this as project management is all about the minute intricacies rather than the grand ideals – the dating protocols rather than Hollywood.

What’s more so, is that this week I have found that within this web of relationships, you will find some individuals who will never meet each other, yet they are unequivocally linked, one totally dependent upon the other with each, completely unaware the other exists.  So if one relationship fails, you have to save another relationship from failing and another and another and it is this precarious situation I find myself in with all my relationships, be it internally within JCA or externally with my suppliers, relying on my one relationship with BT and frankly, I find myself in unfamiliar territory where I can’t help but think… BT, is just not that into me!

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