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Enabling Infrastructure • Fit for Owner

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Part 1 of 5 for the September edition of "Converging over Coffee"

Infrastructure used to conjure up images of huge projects building out relatively unexciting structures, systems and services that everyone needs, uses but treats as invisible. While some of that still remains today, infrastructure has gotten much more complex in today’s context. We want a lot out of our infrastructure. At the heart of it, we want infrastructure to be fit-for-purpose.

What is fit-for-purpose? There are several important aspects to this, addressing purpose, function, user needs, social justice, sustainability etc. Infrastructure is complex because to deliver on each of these, there are a few universal types of fit we should think about. Here is the 1st of 5 of them.

Fit for Owner is hopefully the one that is most intuitive. After all, the client who owns & funds the infrastructure has the greatest interest in the investment & its performance. If the owner’s goals for the service that the infrastructure is intended to provide are not meaningfully clarified, there are just too many ways to design & arrive at outcomes that leave much to be desired.

But getting this right isn’t just about asking what the owner wants or reading the client brief carefully, is it?

In cases where we get this right, the owner, their internal stakeholders & their external project teams all work very hard on and are very intentional about goal clarity. There might be a brief & a contract in place, but all parties work in a way that expands the problem definition before developing a collective focus on the real project goals.

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