My motive is to share some management lessons, yet each time I try with a story approach, everyone gets too excited by the story and get lost on the lesson. So, I will rather share the lessons first and get your attention than share the story first and get you lost. Managing projects always sound very easy, but it comes with the reality of difficulties. Two basic and primary things I always want to address when managing projects are scope and quality requirements. While most people agree that meeting the quality requirements and achieving the scope of project is often the issue, sometimes giving extra more is the hell project managers experience.
Let me then share my story with you and I really hope you will not get lost in the emotions but stay active in the lessons.
Everyone around me admits that friendship is the most important thing to me. It’s sacred! It’s one thing I always want to keep but the story of my childhood friend, Semande came to me as a huge shock and till date I have not been able to reconcile what really went wrong. We were almost turned to the story of the ‘god and goddess’ who lived in the paradise of their fantasies but lost it all when they had simple misunderstanding that no one could resolve for them.
Semande has been my friend for 14 years, we grew up together in the same neighborhood- we experienced almost everything together. For almost 10 years, she never allowed any other gent. It was all about me. I was boo from back to back. Well, how would she have had one? I was always around her, I was all the reason she loved and unloved. She trusted my judgment always. When we were young, I would argue her into not going to school and by 12:00 noon, she would be with me watching me play with the boys. To some people, I was her boy friend, and to many I was her elder brother. I was the reason she chose Anatomy as an undergraduate. I bullied her with my emotional arguments and she agreed with me almost every time. When my friends try to find me and I am off scene, it’s Semande. Her love for me grew beyond understanding and many of her friends called her ‘See-Man’.
Moments I wouldn’t forget were days she’d come to my class to work on her quadratic equations assignment but go back laughing without solutions. We were good gossip friends. Everything feminine about me is Semande’s influence. High school days were filled with strong laughter and friendly pain. She would cry when I leave her in school and would write my notes while I go play soccer. I would walk ‘See-Man’ miles to fix her hair and I have been beaten many times for staying out late seeing Indian movies in her house. That was true definition of love. She enjoyed every bit of my hard work and when I got 291 in my Joint Matriculation Board Examination against the 400 total score- she celebrated with me.
On some opportunities after I graduated from the university, she had to travel to Canada to advance her studies. That happened before her graduation from the prestigious University of Ilorin. She told me about an opportunity to study medicine on scholarship in a Canadian university in Winnipeg and that was when it dawned on me that sometimes we don’t want the best for our best friends. I wanted her to stay in Nigeria with me. Leaving me was disheartening but it was for the good. We talked about it and she cried again and again. Nothing breaks me more than seeing Semande in tears.
We went beyond being just friends, we became a family. We would gist for up to 6 hours, if not more than that in front of the Physiology laboratory whenever I came to see her in school and she told me about the abrupt journey. Just to keep in touch with me afterwards, she got me into some online platforms like the popular 2go, helped me improve my use of Facebook, registered me on Skype, and some other platforms. She wanted us to always keep in touch and just to make Semande happy, I also promised to come for my masters program in Canada.
We would chat for hours, talk on phone for minutes, yet thinking about her came with each beat of my heart. She was just more than whatever- she was everything. One year passed and I was still missing my baby friend.
The first valentine, 2011. Semande sent me jeans, 2 shirts and a wrist watch as gifts. I was so excited. Semande wasn’t into any guy and trust me; she would never accept any guy’s friend request on Facebook. Guys literally complained about the way she nagged at them. ‘If you can’t beat my childhood friend, you can’t love me’. That was her ideology.
My friend sent me gifts from Canada twice and just like every gentle friend, I decided to reciprocate the gesture.
It was in 2013, I began to notice some minor changes. She wasn’t as frequent on social media as she used to and she missed my calls often. She wouldn’t respond to my chats as usual- it was all cool because I thought she was getting busy with school works.
She had told me about a guy in Manitoba, Canada. She said he talks a lot and behaves like me. She mentioned that the guy is very troublesome and it sounded like my Semande was in love- just the first time. I had my girlfriend who was a very close pal to Semande and it was just time for my bestie to explore the beauty of romantic love..
To send Semande a Val gift for 2013, I had to connect with a friend I met in Ghana who was also schooling in Winnipeg. I asked him to help me do a cost estimation of what I needed to buy for my friend- it was a very exciting time. I had saved for this actually. I wanted to surprise her.
Felix, my Ghanaian friend was to help me with this whole process. I told him Semande is my friend and my sister. He got those gifts, packaged them and sent them through a courier service. How did I get Semande’s address? Leave that to some night skype calls you do with your best friend.
Felix is a good friend though. He bought those stuffs and added a nice flower to it. He obviously thought I’m less romantic and less capable of tickling a girl. He had written on the flower some few more nice lines:
‘Your kisses are sweet and your love is intense. I will be your man forever and love you till eternity’.
It was just like a season movie.
The courier got to the address and semande’s new boyfriend was just at the entrance. He picked up the gift, opened it and was embarrassed as anyone would. Two nights before my sweet gift came, Semande and her new boy friend had a terrible argument about the Nigerian dude who uses her picture every time on Facebook. The guy called me a jerk and Semande got messed up. ‘How on earth would you call Eyitayo that?’ She must have responded. She threatened a break up if the guy refuses to acknowledge the fact that I am her Best Friend. The new boyfriend, Martin gently allowed the time to pass and made it up to her for the Val. But here comes my gift, the fuel that kindles the fire of enmity.
The gift really got to Martins. He walked inside, took his clothes and left. Semande was confused! She was in the bathe. They had planned a valentine together, reserved a table in one of the finest restaurant and had prepared themselves for their first moment. Semande couldn’t understand. She taught to herself. What the hell? I was expecting her to say some good things about the gift I sent but she muted. She was also expecting me give an explanation but I went quiet.
Two weeks later, her relationship with Martins went sour and she descended on me. She sent a warm message on facebook; how warm. In her words:
You are a coward and a wicked person. I stayed and waited for you to ask me out. You dated more than 4 girls and I was just there with you all through as your best friend. I did everything. Everything, Eyitayo. I was everything to you. And now, you have a relationship- how dare you get jealous because I love someone. How dare you? You think you can make me breakup with my guy with your foolish gift? You have never bought me a gift for 14 years except those stuffs I bought for you. You are wicked and unhealthy. I hate you.
I was so terrified because I didn’t know what happened. Immediately she noticed I had read the message, she blocked me on Facebook, she deleted me on her BBM, blocked me on Whatsapp, blocked me on Skype, screened my emails, but couldn’t take my life.
What did I do wrong, really?
Project Management simple Lessons:
- Gold plating: The gross mistake here is adding a little more scope to the project work. While it is agreed that adding a little more is good for Portfolio management and marketing, it’s always tough for the project manager to achieve the initial work not to mention of another extra. It’s a bad practice in project management to give an extra. These are the simple reasons:
- There is always a part of the project history you do not know, giving something a little different from what was asked for may distort the essence of the project.
- When you change scope or when you add a little more to the scope, some other constraints change.
- It leaves more unanswered questions in the mind of smart sponsors. Could it be that your initial cost estimations were faulty? Could it be that you overused your man power? Could it have been that you compromise some quality requirements and try to compensate for an additional scope?
- Wrong estimations: Most times, gold plating makes management want to re-audit the project costs. It brings insecurity.
- Quality Assurance: It is best practice to detail quality requirements before executing the project works; and after the works have been done, the project manager needs to run a proper quality assurance test. This process simply means looking through all the products/deliverables and ensuring that every component measures up to the already defined quality specifications. This must be done before the client comes in.
- Scope Validation: Defining scope doesn’t make the project go smoothly. At every point, a good project manager ensures that the deliverables of the project align with the objectives and also with the earlier define scope.
You can also add your project management lesson.