Like life, being a librarian can be all about the Rules.  I’m not talking about the rules – no eating, drinking, petting, pushing, shoving or peeing in the middle of the stacks.  Those of library rules with a lower case r.  No, I’m talking about those invisible Rules that govern us, manipulate our destiny, and define how we live our professional lives.

Hang on, don’t run off – I’m not going all religious and spiritual on you!

I’m talking about the Rules of the Game, be it the library game or in my own personal case right now the funding game.  As I mentioned previously we got knocked back for a funding bid, which was to cut a long story short a bit of a bag of arse.  I’m still waiting to hear back why we weren’t successful, but at the back of my mind is a niggling thought that we might not have Played the Game by the Rules (my, what a lot of capital letters!).

A former boss of mine was, it has to be said, an absolute genius at this.  Me, I’m a mere neophyte in comparison; and I say this as a professional player of strategic and role-playing games.  Heck, I’ve been playing a professional political game at work for the past year and a half!  There was a wonderful sublimation of self that he embodied (if indeed that is a possibility).  he seldom got mad, at least not visibly, even when major projects were seriously hampered by other parties.  We even had a project that was all but deep sixed by our other major partners taking their bat and ball home.  He could have got mad.  Hell, he could certainly have got even.

But he didn’t – because he knew the Rules.  And thanks to his expert gamesmanship the project continued pretty much 75% intact with only 50% of the resources.  All because the funders were impressed with the way he handled himself, and because he was playing by their rules.

Thus with our bid (going to have to start calling it our failed bidsoon), I’m going to be most interested as to why we failed when others succeeded.  I’ll accept that it could just be that we weren’t exactly what the funder was looking for.  I’ll even accept that other competing bids may have been more exotic, innovative or just down right exciting that ours.

But what if it was the relative inexperience of our team in the funder’s bidding process?  What if we failed to  realise all the little tricks that we needed to include?  What if, when it all comes down to it, we just didn’t know the Rules of the Game well enough?

Well, that’s where this experience and the feedback will help.  I’m also going to be following closely those projects that won, especially if any of them are similar to our own.  Not out of any vindictive need to point fingers and cry “Why have you got the money and I’ve not!?”, but rather to seek to discover what aspect of the Rules it was that these projects employed that we missed.

It promises to be a valuable learning lesson.  Pass the Monster Manual.


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