The Notre Dame Objection Handle

1989. Quite the year. Aren’t they all?

The 200th anniversary of La Republic. Springtime saw my first visit to Paris. So terrific, I returned at Summer’s end.

Staying around the adjacent Latin Quarter often, the ancient cathedral a constant presence in your peripheral vision.

Today it stands in ruin.

Smoke still rising from where the roof burned out.

A 12-strong renovator team member accidental ignition the early chief culprit.

Those charged with repair on a now much bigger scale, came straight out and suggested the rebuilding would take “10-15 years”.

An eye-watering €600m to fund the new project already pledged inside the first 24 hours following the fire.

I’ve heard various French officials discuss this.

It seems the place was recently acknowledged as in a state of extreme dilapidation. Hence the resultant current restoration. Yet these (now quasi-fatal) works could have been avoided.

Where was the regular maintenance programme?

Seriously under-funded. Wilfully neglected.

Not only that, it appears that some of the rushing benefactors (and The State as ‘owners’), if they’d have contributed to proper ongoing upkeep, would have saved themselves an absolute huge sum of money. And their precious building would not now be subject to a decade-plus closure.

A favourite conversation of many a buyer is to beat up the salesperson about “maintenance” charges.

Even though today we are in a much healthier place due to the Fish Graph Effect of Cap Ex turning into Op Ex – as the software industry demonstrates with huge licence fees thankfully morphing into way lower rental payments – there remain a number of areas which are rather seen as like the car forecourt ‘optional extras’. Perceived as non-essential to the main usage and unworthy of closely guarded budget. Despite unequivocal proof that they enhance, prolong, simplify, quicken and all-round generally improve whatever ‘solution’ they support.

One such frequent solution selling battle is over “training”. But there are all sorts of deliberately overlooked candidates. And they all have garage mechanic metaphors in forms like servicing, component replacements and upgrades.

In part, I’m reminded of the classic tension between initiation and maintenance. In terms of resource, priority and expenditure.

No-one thinks they’ll fall foul of such a massive Île de la Cité fire. Yet we all know that over time, atrophy as a universal inevitability is inescapable. So why not mitigate against the like, and more?

Does your prospect want their prized monument to be closed for a generation? And cost a billion to put right? Or would they prefer to keep it open and staying in tip-top condition?

…then they ought be happy to pay your “extras” as “essentials” with a knowing smile.

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