I have been incessantly using the metaphor of Sisyphus in my training sessions on the economic analysis of procurement, and particularly of public procurement. Albert Camus’ philosophical essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" - to which I am indebted for this blog’s name - maintains that life is "essentially meaningless, although humans continue to try to impose order on existence and to look for answers to unanswerable questions. Camus uses the Greek legend of Sisyphus, who is condemned by the gods for eternity to repeatedly roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again once he got it to the top, as a metaphor for the individual’s persistent struggle against the essential absurdity of life. According to Camus, the first step an individual must take is to accept the fact of this absurdity. If, as for Sisyphus, suicide is not a possible response, the only alternative is to rebel by rejoicing in the act of rolling the boulder up the hill. Camus further argues that with the joyful acceptance of the struggle against defeat, the individual gains definition and identity". (borrowed from Encyclopedia Britannica)
To some extent - albeit not necessarily with the same nihilistic touch - individual civil servants as well as many public organisations working in public procurement may feel the same frustration in carrying out complex tasks under an often (seemingly) meaningless world of rules. I have now shared with them almost 13 years of problems, promised lands and, ultimately, the sheer impression that things get more and more complicated.
Thanks to many colleagues around the world, I have gather a massive amount of frustrations, but also of precious experiences. My humble purpose is to start sharing at least some of them with as a large audience as possible, and, to best of my abilities, to stay away from pointless and outlandish academic discussions. It is a commitment before being a promise!