Tag: Household chores

Who is chairman of your household?

Corporate governance

Who sets the strategic direction in your relationship? (Photo courtesy of Surachai / freedigitalphotos.net)

“Happy wife, happy life” -Proverb

Corporate governance sets the scene

Has the board of directors made its decision? Have they set the direction for the next planning period? In many American corporations  the chairs of the CEO and the chairman of the board are one and the same. This model is often called Anglo-American model.

On the other side of the Atlantic ocean the seats of the chairman of the board and CEO are separated. The model is often called multi-stakeholder model. Here, the chairman is named as non-executive chairman, who does not take part into operational activities of the company. It is the CEO whose job is to run the operations within the guidelines set by the board.

In addition to setting the direction one of the most important task of the board is to name and dismiss CEO. In this model the purpose of the board is to oversee the benefits of shareholders. This two tier type of corporate governance builds up also the framework for relationships – how do they operate?

Playhouse and dolls

Generally speaking women look into the future. Imagine your childhood and different games and plays that boys and girls used to do. As a boy you were probably sliding the toy car on the floor and quarreling about who can play with the white Porsche and who will have the red Ferrari.

Meanwhile girls were decorating their playhouse and cooking for their dolls. Once in a while trying to force boys to join the play and be the daddy for their home of imagination. That’s preparation for the future that girls dream about in very early age. They might create an imagination of the family before they even might know who will be the lucky one.

Relationships are actually often organized as the corporations in continental Europe.  Women set the guidelines and men execute. It’s me who vacuum cleans, but she’s the one determining when.

Sure, in a small business as a family, she, the chairman of the board, takes a big role in the operational level too. But think about it again, have you been able to decide when to empty a dish washer I just got a second kind reminder. I was able to postpone the task for an hour to be able to do some writing.

More social proof

Have you ever heard any of your friend say: “I proposed to her, because the concept of marriage is very important to her”. Or what about this: “We started to build a new house, because she thought we needed more space.”  I have witnessed both and I was convinced that many relationships are governed by the same model as thousands of corporations.

Your wife sets the course and you execute? Maybe the hedgerow has grown a bit too high and in the next moment you find yourself with the hedge shears in the backyard. In relationships women hold the seat of the chairman of the board. Women determine the course of the company by setting the strategic direction. Men conduct the daily tactical operations by being a chief executive officer.

Strategic questions confirm

As mentioned board of directors select the CEO. In business life CEOs play the role of a representative of the company. He’s the public figure towards the media, customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.

The same board has the burden and obligation to let go an unfortunate CEO who has not achieved the targets set by the board. In extreme the only function of the board is to nominate and let go of the CEO. Because of the ultimate power of the chairman of the board is often a powerful influencer behind the scenes. All of it is surprisingly familiar in private relationships too.

The same day I was writing this particular chapter, my lovely partner again popped up the question I fear: “So where we will be in one year?” My brains just shout: “I don’t have a clue! Why are you asking me?” But I managed to keep my lips together and instead I mumbled the magical counter question: “How do you imagine that?”

Per se women require more confidence about the future and therefore drive to set more defined course for the relationship. It’s the chairman of the board who carries the ultimate responsibility about the future.

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3 reasons why relationships exist

Purpose of relationships

Relationships build on three basic foundations.

“If you don’t know why, you can’t know how” – Simon Sinek, author of business bestseller Start with why, 2009.

Do you have a job description?

Traditional household job descriptions are transforming rapidly. More men consider cooking as their hobby as it not that long time ago used to be somewhat an obligation or even a duty of women. Changing the bulb or lawn mowing might remain chore of men. Although I have heard a woman telling how she likes cutting the grass on the backyard in the sunshine. Nevertheless you can hardly do it in the rain. Responsibilities and tasks of everyday life are traditionally shared, but very often debated about.

Fairly recent study by University of Washington even goes quite far with the results about what happens where the household work is divided equally between man and woman. Their results claim that sexual activity in equal circumstances is reduced.

Many would question the methods and validity of the study, but the results and the conclusions are intriguing. The authors of the study do not wish to jolt the equilibrium and alert wishful men about unhappy marital life, if the chores at home end up one-sidedly divided. To understand the meaning and foundation of the relationship, it might be useful to look how does a daily life look like.

While editing this text, I am sitting at the writing desk and simultaneously downloading holiday pictures to a memory stick. Meanwhile my spouse is preparing us a dinner. After the tasty meal I usually fill the dishwasher and clear out the kitchen. You know the story. These duties have developed over time.  Neither one of us is unaware what to do, I might forget a step or another in the process, tough. But I will be reminded.

To avoid quarrels about the roles I have spoken about our job descriptions with my partner. Literally. First I made up this concept and topic as a small joke, but it evolved into a serious discussion. Eventually it has reduced pressure, when both are aware what is expected in the household.

What kind of rationale do the roles in the relationships have? Do these foundations provide insight to why relationships are formed? To maneuver in often turbulent relationships, whether in business partnerships or in marriage, one needs to know which factors hold the relationship together. What are the driving forces behind relationships?

In their brick-thick textbook Strategic Marketing (2003) David Cravens and Nigel Piercy present a fundamental model of the foundation of every partnership. The foundation consists of three elements: opportunity to create additional value, gaps in resources and capabilities and turbulence and diversity of environment. They determine the emergence and strength of every partnership.

Relationship has to add value

One of the most fundamental reason for a partnership is the opportunity to create additional value. In the very end it’s all about  giving more than taking away. The business thinking is often neglecting partnerships as a way to create additional value. Through partnerships businesses can enter new markets, develop their market position or reduce cost base. Typically companies enter new markets for example by joint ventures or distribution partnerships.

For instance, by entering into a relationship man and woman can access reduced costs by consolidating living expenses. Men can enter a new market position by jumping out from a bachelor era to a family life. A position which women often look forward to. In private life marketplace around individuals is changing.

In late twenties and early thirties one can easily notice the increased amount of marriage and baby photos in Facebook. You or your friends with children meet other people in the same state of life. They have got similar stories to share and same problems to solve. By enabling adaptation to changed market conditions the relationship creates value by enjoyable social life.

Relationships support and complement

A partnership has a solid foundation when the partners have supporting and complementing functions and capabilities. This foundation is clear when we look at, for instance, the relationship between a manufacturer and a distributor. Product development and production are key business functions of the manufacturer. Distributor on the other hand has the logistic and sales capabilities that support manufacturer’s business.

In business competition and capabilities determine market roles. In relationship gender directs (or pushes) us to natural specialization. Wait a moment! Is it natural and gender specialization? Luckily, I have observed, it’s often the one who enjoys cooking, who can be found holding the scoop.

In not that modern times the differences in resources and capabilities were a highly important factor. They affected our genetic evolution during thousands of years. The caveman theory builds on these differences between genders. Reflect on your own relationship for a moment. In which areas are you stronger in your everyday life at home? How about your spouse, what is she most enthusiastic about ? This way you can start revealing the diversified capabilities you complement each other.

Today, many tasks are divided by the extent of enthusiasm for a daily chore. If cooking is a passion for my partner, I possess the skill and a will to change a broken bicycle tyre. Unfortunately there is no need to change the tubeonce or twice per day to have balanced amount of household activities.

Often my balance sheet carries big burden of short and long term debt. Flowers, serving the senses for beauty and scent, often make up the difference, more often I find myself ironing a high pile of clothing.

Relationship needs to smoothen your journey

Diversity and turbulence of the environment is the third foundation for business partnerships.When supply of components fail and delivery times lengthen, the manufacturer relies on the distributor that balances product availability. Turbulence of the marketplace is reduced and together manufacturer and distributor are stronger. There’s a clear need for strong partnership.

Marital relationships have the same function of smoothing the journey in life. The older you get the more you will seek for security and you tend to value stable family life. Relationships also provide support in the modern corporate life, where jobs are cut in the name of reorganizations and enhancements of competitiveness.

What can we learn from all the above? Three foundations are key drivers to establish a relationship and hold it together. By viewing the major decisions in life through the foundations one can avoid placing basic requirements in jeopardy. Relationships require value creation from both sides, supporting and complementing capabilities and reduction of external stress.

If the fundamentals are at risk so is the relationship. Flowers once a month will not do the job.

(photo courtesy of scottchan / freedigitalphotos.net)

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