Tag: Caveman theory

Why we need purpose in our relationship

What are relationships for

How far do you look into the future? (photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages)


“That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure.” -Peter F. Drucker

Very same night after publishing this post, my spouse once again asked me: “What is our fate?”. (We are not native speakers, but talk English to each other.) In the following morning that question made me to add here our glimpse into the future, but in the particular moment I managed to mumble: “How would you imagine it?” I tried and succeed in avoiding the question. I don’t always succeed.

“It’s how we make it.” She answers. “I would like to make it just as normal life.” She continues. The life that we had been living hadn’t been that typical so far. We met in Austria, lived in Czech Republic, Finland and now in Denmark to name one detail.

When most of us were still in business school, mission and vision were fashionable. Today you can see them fading into background, where they are consolidating into one. Purpose. The race for efficiency has hit the statement of company’s future too – cut it down into one word.

Like it was the case with mission and vision, the formulation of purpose usually takes place in the top management of the company. Most importantly the purpose of the company eventually sets the long-term direction of the business. Meaningful purpose is also a tool to motivate employees and increase their commitment into the business. It can be also used as a vehicle for building public image of the company.

Purpose requires farsightedness

Before jumping into the purpose of the relationships, we need to understand the governance system of relationships. Earlier we discussed the organizational structure of relationships that lead us into thinking of relationships constituting chairman of the board, woman, and chief executive office, man.

This time we elaborate into one of the elements behind this division: farsightedness. In relationships the idea of direction setting we base on the assumption of difference in the thinking of men and women.

Without putting much scientific research behind of the key assumption, we could easily state that women – in average at least – have stronger, more sophisticated part of the brain where emotions, and also emotional decisions, take place. The part of the brain in question is called limbic brain.

Generally women are also better to articulate their emotions into words. Those words are produced in the neocortex part of the brain. By articulating their emotions into words women talk about future and create pictures of the shared future. Often they also expect men to describe their perception of the future.

Difference of time span

Men often live like most of the chief executing officers. Reaching out to meet the targets of each month and running quarter. Often men are fine with living day by day.

I can’t provide a lot of research to support the statement about emotional proficiency of women. Instead I can base some of it on the numerous observations of the discussions between men. Stories, where men are left numb with women’s request for response to her expression of feelings are typical source of manly humor. A compassionate story told as a joke might also work as a sign of support when a friend has challenges with at home.

Women have deep foresight of the future of the relationship. In business that’s the duty and task of the board of directors. In the relationship woman acts as a board of directors for strategic direction. After all, depending on the country in question local legislation usually requires a company to have an appointed committee for supervisory role, board of directors, and one for management of daily operations, managing director.

Why is purpose important?

What does a purpose bring to businesses and relationships? Famous author of Innovator’s dilemma Clayton Christensen specifies the components of the purpose. His book How will you measure your life (2012) divides meaningful purpose into three components:

  • Likeness: what you want ultimately to be.
  • Commitment: purpose requires commitment to the likeness.
  • Metrics: Progress towards the likeness should be measurable.

In other words purpose will demonstrate the future of the business or relationship to the participants rather than letting them to find themselves from a coincidental situation.  As it is case with work-life well articulated purpose enhances commitment, but there needs to be commitment to the purpose in the first place.

Clearly defined purpose drives the actions towards the first component, likeness, the picture of the destination. Purpose also sets certain metrics for the business and relationships. Against the purpose members of the organisation or partners can evaluate their own progress.

As relationships are small enterprises the roles of the board of directors and managing director are blurred. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that as a chief operating officer man has an opportunity to influence the purpose setting, but ultimately it’s given. Working towards the purpose will eventually build  up the relationship.

In our relationship we have drawn a dusk picture of our future and purpose of our common journey. In crossroads of our journey we often evaluate how each turn matches the purpose.

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No framework for relationships?

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” – Jay-Z

World is full of business theories and concepts that explain how businesses compete, succeed and evolve. Students of business spend years of their youth to study Porter, Kottler and Mintzberg to understand business and its management. Academics and practitioners have developed their models to structure the complex reality of business and economics.

There are fewer theories that explain why private relationships work as they do. Too rarely we reflect how and why our private relationships work as they do. Inevitably both business and private relationships face their own challenges. What can we use as a framework for problem solving and development in relationships?

From caveman theory to…

Wait a moment, I hear you saying. For sure there are indefinite amount of literature that explain reasons behind the behavior of men and women in relationships. The existing literature is usually building on the differences of female and male genome that evolved during thousands of years of human history. Often they are known as caveman theories.

They explain, for instance, why men are generally less talkative than women? Why men are able to concentrate on one thing at a time or why senses of women are sharper? I’m sure you have noticed that females enjoy caressing slightly more than males do.

…Interdisciplinary approach

In the end, how genetical differences give us a full answer how relationships really operate as they do? At least I didn’t find an understanding. Luckily, I drifted into a solution through my interest in business. The better I understand business the more I can understand what actually happens in my relationship.

This blog unites business and relationships. Business is cold and relationhips are warm. Theories, examples and conclusions of this blog might awake controversial feelings.  The words are highly influenced by the fingers of a man and the straightforward brains moving those glumpsy fingers on the keyboard.

This blog is primarily written for men by a man. For that I must express my sincere apologies to the dearest female readers. Without a particular woman this blog could have never been established. Therefore I sincerely hope that also female readers decide to proceed with the blog. In most instances it’s applicable to replace words  “she”, “her” or “hers” with words “he” or “his”.

What is it in for me? Better work-life balance

As this blog is as much about business as it is about relationships I allow myself to include a brief advertisement in the beginning. Send out a link to your partner for fun or perhaps as a gentle tip. Relationship MBA started as a humorous idea and thus, hopefully, makes a smile appear time to time. The blog will work as a guide book for self-development for it’s author and all like minded people out there.

Relationship MBA is not just for businessmen. Future pieces of writing can work as a business crash course to an engineer, lawyer, doctor or another professional. Nowadays understanding of business and financials is never undervalued. The drive of economics is ever increasing in all fields of society. That fact creates work pressure in every sector from engineering to health care. It’s another reason to rehearse how businesses and relationships operate.

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