When there’s train crash, at speed the railcars which follow the engine bogey crash and crush up into one another as like a concertina. Sometimes, especially when one has been in one of these accidents, time seems to slow down to a crawl for you; and this is a subjective state which however seems for all the world to be very real when it is taking place. And so you get the impression that you are watching a movie in slowmo, that somehow you are outside of yourself like a person watching in a cinema, and things are crystal clear and going on somewhat surreally all around you.
So the railcars crash and crush up into one another as it were very clearly and slowly, and the sound might not be even noted by you, even though the noise is going to be terrific.
The crashing and crushing up into one another of the railcars is a concatenation; a series of interconnected events, a sequence which, once set in motion, is more or less thereafter inevitable in its continuance and in the case of a train crash, linear in its consequences.
Now imagine a more complex situation; an exponential concatenation; and add several concurrent strands to it, say fifteen or twenty; and further let each strand be capable of interacting and interfering with the outcomes of the other sequences of concatenation, so that the overall consequence of the event is as near as one can imagine envisaging what an atomic fission chain reaction might be like to experience when occurring at a level of magnitude fitted to daily human life.
What needs to be done now is to psychologise this imagined physical event. Because such events do occur like this between humans in relationships; they are of the kind whereby say a couple fall in love and wed, and yet five years down the line they are fighting tooth and nail in public, in an acrimonious courtroom war of attrition with an aim to do as much hurt to the other as either can dream up.
The wedding day is the rail network running fine and everything is on time. Five years later the divorce is the catastrophe that happens when all the signalmen on the network have oddly gone loco (!) and switched points and lights so that our chain reaction of series of concatenations becomes a terrible bizarre reality.
Of course trains can’t all pile up in this way in fact; it’s just not in the nature of track layouts, so you have to excuse the illustration as being unfitted in this respect. Nonetheless relationships do deteriorate and once they reach a momentum to break free of convention and restraint, and these fissile explosions boil up and over, they behave as if they could be governed by the laws of physics
You might be able now to get a bead on what we mean when we say that some Project Takeovers are dangerous because analogous to you being handed a ticking bomb to fix back into being a fluffy toy. The chances of you being able to do this are really not good. Because when gaps open between developers and their clients which allow tensions to brew and fester, and respect to wither and fail; and expectation to switch to a negative value; and communications to begin to hide from parties as much as they reveal to them; when this and other strands of dysfunction kick in and begin messing with a developer/client relationship, then the Project is on course to be a train wreck.
One cannot hear a symphony during an earthquake. One cannot grow crops during an eruption. In the same way one cannot complete a Project well when relations between you and your client are seriously falling apart. Inevitably the friction, frustrations and simmering resentments will poison not just the well from which you and he drink in common, but will mar the understanding of what technically is required in the project and how by design this requirement might be implemented. You may have heard the joke that a rhinoceros (sometimes it is a giraffe) is an animal designed by a committee; well take this joke a step further and one might say that nothing of any pleasing or functional shape and purpose was successfully made by mutual enemies.
The story is well picked out by William Blake:
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
Some things cannot be said between business associates. They are likely to be discussed by the several friends of each of the parties about the other party, and there is no satisfaction in that to either party. Thus wrath grows insidiously. It is these situations which lead, in a good many cases to, so as to become parcelled up as, explosive charges, resulting in Projects that are to be handed over to subsequent developers as Project Takeovers.
Now certain heavy elements are by the course of their nature highly unstable at NTP. In the natural order they will deplete into stable but more or less inert substances. And on the way to stability they emit, sometimes for aeons and aeons, emmanences fatal to life of nearly every known kind. In the same way there are persons who like these heavy elements are volatile and unreliable, dangerous; and, unfortunately too often, they also destroy themselves because of their adverse natures. They too often also end up ostracised from normal and amiable society, living lives on the streets or in closed wards. Whether or not they might be held responsible for any consequences of their nature is not in question here. The observation to be made from this figure is that many, maybe most of these unfortunates are so fragmented as personalities because they are so deeply and intractably conflicted within themselves.
‘If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand’
This then is another figure for that relationship which ought to be one of communing and mutually assisting parties with prima facie goodwill and generous good faith; but which in the course of events over time deteriorates so that neither party knows where they are and trust has utterly failed.
With Project Takeovers very often this is the damage that has been done already – to the client and to his Project – to his former developer and to this developer’s own trust and good faith – and one is taking it on, if one decides to take it on, as a balled tangle of threads constituted of knots of thwarted emotions and frustrated wills, which, as you being the new developer, very likely will be yours to try to unravel in addition to having to complete the Project. This is often the case even concerning the actual development work previously done by any former developer; one too often will have to reverse engineer and re-engineer virtually from scratch any development work already accomplished.
‘He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths.’
[This article was originally published at “The Project Takeover Blues 4 – Concatenations“]