The Project Takeover Blues 6 – Buying and Selling

‘I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul’ – Bob Dylan

In the field of Classical Economics whenever mechanisms which bear naturally upon an open market are being discussed there is more or less always a presumption foregoing that ‘scarcity’ is a vitally essential concept.

The laws of Supply and Demand are largely governed by scarcity and by scarcity value in this field.  There are two expressions – i. A Buyer’s Market, and; ii. A Seller’s Market; which arise out of discussions about scarcity in such a marketplace.

All goods and services, and all the different kinds of goods and services, which a Political Economy is able to supply to its marketplace, will carry levels of scarcity.

For instance it is more or less self-evident to us that Gold Bullion is far more scarce than Bread or Rice in most parts of the world.  It is self-evident also that because of this relative scarcity Gold is of a greater value than Bread or Rice generally speaking.

Economists say: Gold has greater scarcity value than that of Bread or Rice.

This reasoning leads us on to looking at supply and demand. It makes sense that a scarce commodity like Gold is in short supply when its supply levels are compared to those of Bread or Rice.  And because of this there are generally more buyers looking to buy it than there are there is Gold available for sale. Otherwise the high scarcity value of Gold could not be sustained and its price consequently would fall. This Gold market place then is a Seller’s Market simply because it is the Sellers who are able to call the shots on Gold transactions being made.

(Please bear in mind that this is theory economics I am talking about, and that  in practice there and many, many variables and factors which are able to intervene and make their effect on this ‘pure’ marketplace and so on the scarcity value of Gold or of Bread or Rice)

In those parts of the world where Bread and Rice are plentiful, when compared to Gold, then their scarcity value is much lower than that of Gold and so the prices at which they are offered for sale are also much lower than Gold is being offered for.  Thus a Buyer’s Market is created wherein a surplus Bread and Rice supply means lower prices and the Buyers are thus calling the shots on transaction details. Sellers will settle more readily for what they can make

Now when one applies this reasoning to a typical relationship between a Developer and a Client; perhaps nine times out of every ten Projects, maybe more, the Client assumes (for some reason?) that the marketplace he is in is a Buyer’s Market.  And so likewise he assumes that he is able to call the shots; to set the price; to lay out the technical requirement; to nominate the tools; to direct the operations; to manage the Developer and his team or company.  In short, the most oppressive of Clients believe that they have bought the complete attention and the complete resource, and the complete management at the Developer’s place of business – at the least for the duration of the building and handover of the project to him.

It’s about control. It’s about risk. It’s about fear. It’s about a Client psychologically having to manage these bogies in his mind; and these lead him on in his bid for hegemony over his Developer until he is satisfied that his project is AOK and in place working and making him money.  The pressures are large for him, and often he is not technical enough to be able to be sure of the Developer and place a technologically reasoned confidence in him. If he were; if he could; he would not have needed to engage a Developer but probably could/would have done the development work himself.

These two things: risk, and fear, urge on his desire for control; all three things together are exacerbated by him, as it were, going into the venture ‘blind’; that is; him being without technical knowledge.  It’s a little like being under the knife of a surgeon and unconscious; you have to weigh up the quality of the surgeon beforehand and you will know nothing about surgery.  You are left with hope, trust and a prayer as you lose consciousness counting backwards.

You might look up on the net beforehand your ailment and run through a lot of time and pages reading about similar conditions and the surgery that is recommended for them. Like a hypochondriac you might delve quite deeply trying to match your apprehensions with an adequate garner of reassurance to be had, one hopes, from one’s reading. Like hypochondriacs, when the operation is serious, maybe life and death, you are likely to get drawn in and begin to grow neuroses and anxieties which do not help you at all to manage and are counterproductive.  You don’t want a surgeon who is anxious and neurotic do you?  Your reading has the opposite effects you want it to have on you.

‘A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.

Likewise your Client, by him assuming control over his Developer, he is likely to do more harm than good to himself.  Like when having a risky operation, one having zero knowledge of surgery is a far better resource for peace of mind than going delving and frantically gleaning off the web a host of half-digested partial-truths about it at the last minute.  The Client who is like this is usually the one who ‘cannot let go’; of his worries, of his apprehensions; and his fears; his urge in response is to call the shots and lay down the law; and generally to harass his Developer and ultimately make his and his own life truly miserable.

This type of Client is strictly-speaking assuming control. He is like a chimpanzee let loose in the Space Shuttle coming in to land.  He has no real idea what is required technically; whether it is feasible; or possible, or impossible or impracticable or easily added or doable or not.  His efforts show in a fit visual image:

‘Like a madman shakes a dead geranium’

Clients like these are those most liable to run through Developers one by one like diarrhea.  They appear never to learn the basic lessons of their business and of their business transactions.  We have all gone up to our wives and husbands who have been struggling so irritatingly to us with a screwdriver and a faulty appliance and at last we have let rip with; ‘Give it here! Let me do that!’  And soon thereafter with a humble, perhaps grovelling apology admitting defeat similarly to one’s spouse.

In this then we can all feel sympathy for the nervous edgy guy who just cannot help but want to control his baby, his project, who cannot help himself, who cannot control even his own desperate urges to dominate; there is so much at stake for him – he envisages.

But is it not all ego? Is it not all the blind inherent assurance in the self that everything will be alright if only I can take over and control and manage the tasks and the issues at stake.  Not many, not even among the worst of egoists, will be likely to feel or believe that they can do better than that surgeon they are entrusting, are having to entrust, their body and innards to for a few hours. And that will be that.  No argument. Besides, they will be unconscious and could not do it if they even thought they might be able to!

But the Developer is fair game – thus the presumption of there being a Buyer’s Market is ever the case with many Clients, anxious about their development project, its negotiation and delivery. Such a Client will nearly always do his best to ‘lean on’ and so ‘steer’ his Developers as much as he is able to usurp.

To finish up; consider this: What do you look for when choosing a good surgeon? Short answer: Character. Longer answer: clean tidy shoes and apparel, suitable to a man or woman of eminence and distinction in his/her profession.  He or she exudes a confidence which is not idle, proprietary or overweening; and seems to be fluent on her/his specialist knowledge; observant, patient, engaged personally and considerate; a good bedside manner; polite and with a lively mind: someone who has the look and feel of a person to whom you could just about trust your health.

Bottom line: isn’t it pretty much the same when choosing a Developer? A less desperately critical issue than choosing a surgeon maybe, but even so, doesn’t this very lesser level of concern in fact mean that one should be more at ease and not jack oneself to be over pressured – after all, few Developers have messed up so badly that they have put their Client in a wheelchair or dug them an early grave.

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