Weekly RoundUp

What’s new this week?

Announcement :  Categories have been added to all of the posts we have uploaded so far.  Existing categories are

  • Understanding Infrastructure
  • New Perspectives
  • The Four Transitions, namely
    • From Efficiency to Effectiveness
    • From Sustainability to Adaptability
    • From Risk to Resilience under Uncertainty
    • From Growth to Prosperity for all
  •  The Weekly RoundUp

Explanations of these categories can be found by clicking on “Categories” in the main menu or by clicking on any of the individual categories.

Commentary;  This week we have four extremely thoughtful and extensive comments by Doug Bartlett, one each to the last four posts as a start to further conversation, so join in, comment on the post or on any comment.  And just a reminder to all, to see the comments associated with each post, remember to click ‘comments’ in the post menu

Weekly Roundup

Some of the more Interesting ideas arising from commentary and communication this week.

Kathy Dever Todd commented on The Third AM Revolution and in subsequent conversation spoke of her work in New Zealand on Resilience.  This has caused me to rethink the third transition which I had previously positioned as ‘from risk to uncertainty’. Resilience, however is a better word for the goal of dealing with uncertainty for it has positive connotations (as well as a developing literature), so, thanks to Kathy, I am repositioning the third transition as ‘From Risk to Resilience’.

The Third AM Revolution also drew thoughtful comment from John Falade who acknowledged that plant asset managers aimed at 95% efficiency for critical assets but argued that “Whilst we can celebrate the emphasis on critical assets as a paradigm shift from the pre strategic asset management era mindset of ‘all assets must be maintained’, it still stops short of asking the questions:  What do I or my organisation want to achieve with our assets?  What assets re really critical towards the achievement of our objectives? Do we need 95% reliability or availabilit of these assets to achieve our objectives. In other words, do I need so much efficiency to be effective? (my emphasis)  See his full comment.

Milos Posavijak commented on A Strange Business, providing a link to manufacturing process and product life cycles and contrasting manufacturing plant and community infrastructure in terms of variety and standardisation. See comment and link.  In his comment on Is There Still a Role for Common Sense? he put forward the intriguing proposition that ‘the model is not the predictor of future reality, but a JIT factory for future scenarios from the most granular asset information to the overall network’  Definitely worth further consideration, see comment.

In email discussion over Do Efficiency and Effectiveness conflict?  Sandy Dunn referred to the Transport Department that, with the appointment of a new Head, realised that their function was not to build and maintain roads, but to minimise traffic congestion.  This brought on quite a bit of work in analysing and resequencing traffic signals – and they have achieved some good results.   This led me to think how many of us have ‘process determined’ objectives such as ‘build and maintain roads’ when we would be better served with ‘outcome determined’ objectives such as minimise traffic congestion.  Your thoughts?

In conversation with Ron Riegel-Huth over Understanding the Objective, he queried whether ‘reduce road accidents’ or ‘improve road safety’ was really the main determining objective of the government. Surely, he suggested, the real determinant was ‘how do we get this road accident public pressure off our backs?  And, he added, unless we start with the real objective, our research and analysis will be ineffective.  Again, your thoughts?

Enjoy the weekend. Penny

No new posts this week.  I am in Perth for our second City Chapter meeting.  Posts will resume next week.

In the meantime feel free to comment on any existing post.


The Infrastructure Quiz

The UK Government has been criticised for its lack of a national infrastructure policy. Some might say this applies to Australia as well.  However, before we can develop an infrastructure strategy that can gain national acceptance, we need to have a general understanding across the nation about the purpose of infrastructure. In other words, common agreement on ‘what’s it for?”  So, today, we have a little quiz.

1. Which of the following BEST expresses for you the prime purpose of infrastructure?

  • create jobs
  • increase productivity
  • maintain strategic control
  • provide a needed service
  • raise the standard of living
  • stimulate the economy
  • sustain the construction industry
  • SOMETHING ELSE (please describe)

2. Do others see things the same way?  Spend a few minutes and consider who might support each of the other definitions.  (Research shows that each idea IS supported by some group.)

3. For those within an organisation, does your organisation see things the way you do?  What is the evidence that they do?  E.g. A policy, a principle, or, better yet, a practice.

4. Looking now to the State or the Federal level of government, what purpose would you say most reflects their infrastructure choices?   Are their choices consistent with each other?   Is what drives them also what drives you or your organisation?  That is. do you have the same purpose?  How do you know?

Have fun!

And do click the ‘add a comment’ tag in the menu bar and share any of your ideas.

Doing Different – Is there an App for that?

The 9th World Urban Forum was held in Kuala Lumpur a week ago.  This is where tens of thousands of people from across the world gather to find ‘best practice’ examples and ideas that they can take back to their countries or organisations to improve their communities. Now, apart from being different from what is being done now, what commends a particular ‘best practice’ example to any individual participant?  What should?  What do you look for in a ‘best practice’ example?  (e.g. what tells you that it IS ‘best practice’?) What would it take to develop a guidance tool to quickly assess any given example, to enable you to hone in on those with the most opportunity for success?  Considering the dangers of ‘doing different’ just for difference sake, of which we spoke in the last post, I have, over the last few months, been speaking with a couple of colleagues as to how this could be done.

Where do we start?  Firstly – Know thyself!   Those of you who were caught up in the benchmarking craze some years ago, may remember how organisations would gleefully arrange meetings with ‘best practice’ organisations to see what they could glean.  And they would do this, without first taking the trouble to understand fully what they were themselves doing.  Many changes were made that lacked understanding, and caused more damage than they avoided.

A first iteration of such a guidance app, with a strong focus on understanding our own organisations and what is driving their decision making, was trialled at the Urban Forum in KL last week which established proof of concept.

We are now considering a forum for further development and testing.


Does this idea intrigue you? And would you would like to be part of its further development?   If so, please let me know in the comments section below or write me at penny@TalkingInfrastructure.com

Next Week:  Problems with Infrastructure Decision Making.

Welcome New Full Members!

Community membership is open to everyone who has an interest in making the changes in infrastructure necessary for the 21st century, there is no fee  – and we welcome you all!

However, for those community members who would like to go further and actively contribute to the goals of Talking Infrastructure, invitations are offered to become full  (i.e. voting, direction-setting) members.

Please welcome our most recent Full Members:

Dr Neville Binning

Neville’s company, EDAB, has a speciality in transport infrastructure. He has a PhD in Asset Management and is the International Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT).  Neville has taken on the role of Chair of the Talking Infrastructure’s Perth City Chapter.


Hein Aucamp,

Hein is Infrastructure Asset Management Consultant at WA Integrated Asset Management.  Hein is a member of the Perth City Chapter and a contributer to the Blog.  Multi-talented, Hein also has broadcasting experience in South Africa.


Sophie Wallis,

Sophie is an experienced facilitator and Strategy and Sustainability Consultant at Upthink, a member of the Perth City Chapter and contributor to the Blog.  When we realised that we both had an interest in Nudge Theory and Behavioural Economics and its relationship to infrastructure, Sophie and I collaborated on a series of blogs on Nudge Theory.


Chris Adam,

Chris is Director of Strategic AM Pty Ltd, is a management consultant specialising in the water industry.  Chris was a regular contributor to Strategic Asset Management and is one of the first to have made the essential transition now to Infrastructure Decision Making. He is a contributor to the Blog and a specialist advisor to Talking Infrastructure.


ACTION    If you would like to be invited to become a full, voting, direction-setting, member of Talking Infrastructure, there are TWO simple steps you need to take:

Step One:   Join the Talking Infrastructure Community as a Community Member

Step Two:    Text me your mobile number so that we may organise a chat to find out what you are interested in and would like to see us do.

Penny Burns, Chair, Talking Infrastructure,  0434 406 751

Announcement: Full Talking Infrastructure Association Membership

No fees

The Board has decided that for the foreseeable future we will not charge fees for full voting membership of Talking Infrastructure.  Full membership will, instead, be by invitation to those Community members that contribute in a meaningful way to the work of the Association.

Our first invitations go to

  • Kerry McGovern, of K.McGovern & Associates, who initiated, and collaborated with Talking Infrastructure in designing, a 5 day workshop in the audit of infrastructure performance for Auditors-General in the Pacific Islands.
  • Mark Neasbey, of the Australian Centre for Value Management, who has contributed many posts for the Blog, that have been amongst the most highly read and commented on.
  • Ben Lawson of Common Thread Consulting who has been a regular reader and prolific commentator on the blog

Our congratulations to Kerry, Mark and Ben.  Your commitment to the development, information exchange and debate ideals of Talking Infrastructure are putting us where we are today.

Thank you.