I am often told that I should be targetting ‘Talking Infrastructure’ at the politicians because they are the real decision makers. But are they?
Politicians are like a jury. The lawyers make their best case and the jury chooses between them. The result depends on the skill of the lawyers who have to examine the facts before them, assess their validity, make a case and then present it as persuasively as they can. Now the lawyers may not have all the facts, or the jury may be influenced by matters other than the facts – the look of the defendant, perhaps. It may be that the guilty go free, or the innocent are convicted. No reasonable person could think that this is ‘fair’ or ‘right’, but it is the way we discover the truth under the legal system we have. Importantly the jury is chosen deliberately for its representativeness, not analytical skills. To get better results from our jury system we therefore work on improving the system – and the quality of the lawyers who analyse and present the information.
Politicians are like a jury. Infrastructure analysts examine the issues, collect data, analyse it, make a case and present it. They are like the lawyers. The politicians then have to take a stand. The analysts MAKE the case. The politicians TAKE a stand. That is why I refer to the analysts as ‘infrastructure decision MAKERS’ and the politicians as ‘infrastructure decision TAKERS’. Semantics perhaps, but a useful distinction.
It is also why I am targetting this Talking Infrastructure Blog at the analysts and not at the politicians. It is the analysts who can make a difference.
Whether a proposal ‘gets up’ depends on
- the merits of the proposal itself,
- the skill with which it is presented, and
- the match between it and the needs of the politicians
All of these (yes, even the last) are within the capacity of the analyst – the infrastructure decision maker – to improve. End of manifesto!
Question for today: Do you believe we need to better understand the needs of politicians. Why or why not?