Skin in the game

May 25th, 2008 at 8:34 pm by james

I was sorting through old papers in my study the other day and came across Adlard & Adlard: The Complete Summer Catalogue. “Boats and paints and pots and pans and lamps and stands and mugs and rugs and towels trowels flower-pots and chairs and shoes and tins and bins …”. When we moved to the UK in 2000 we sold pretty much everything. We took three chests of stuff and an easel in excess baggage. We moved back to Cape Town in 2006 with a 20ft container and over the past four weeks we have very seriously considered doing it all again.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that there’s “very seriously considered” and then there’s “very seriously considered”. As my blogging has become more and more sporadic over the past twenty months and our relationship has inevitably become more distant as a result, there may be a chance you’ve forgotten my natural inclination to understatement. On Tuesday afternoon at 16.20 we decided not to return to England next week. Our house was on the rental market; we had flights booked and confirmed; we had forty minutes of business time left before the packers arrived to start work in our house. It just didn’t feel right.

So quite seriously considered, then. We had decided in the last week of April that it was time to change our employment arrangements. Our gut feel was that we’d be moving back abroad, but we went out to our networks and friends all over the world immediately. Sure enough, we had not a single local lead within our decision timeframe and so made our plans to move: budgets were drawn up, sales lists were (once again) compiled, removal quotes and surveys (and re-surveys to absolutely ensure we’d fit a 20ft container again) were had, tickets were booked, agents of every description were contacted, met and negotiated with. There were periods of immense frustration, times of great excitement and times of intolerable grinding drudgery. Yes, I know, it was just four weeks.

There’s a lot can be accomplished in four weeks, but the real art of critical program management is about the skin in the game. We had backed out every financial commitment (except our dining room table, which we’d shipped up the coast and are missing terribly) by 10am on Wednesday. The emotional turmoil of change is more difficult to quantify, impossible to “back out” and evades easy resolution.

For the past few days, then, we’ve been regrouping, recovering from the inevitable early-winter viruses and beginning to think about what we want next. A change of pace of some description no doubt; a set of changes of pace following hard on each others heels in some almost-random pattern would probably be best.

We’re not quite sure what that looks like yet but have a little time to figure it out, what with work finishing this week.

When I’m at my most stressed I dream of going farming (deluded soul that I am). If anyone out there’s looking for a goat-herd please let me know.
Must include house with grounds.

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