Infrastructure Must Be Flexible To Operate and Create Future Opportunities

By: Gayle Dendinger Issue: Rebuilding Our Infrastructure Section: InspirationsInfrastructure

Recently, when Governor John Hickenlooper was sworn into office, he signed Executive Order 3 – implementing a statewide economic development strategy for the state of Colorado. It was unveiled to the public on July 20th after six months of research from a variety of citizens (5,000 citizens in all 64 counties of Colorado) across the state, “We hope you will stay involved in our collective effort to develop economies across Colorado. Success breeds more success, and communities that embrace collaboration will reap the benefits,” says Hickenlooper. This blueprint highlights six key areas for the state of Colorado: build a business-friendly environment; recruit, grow and retain businesses; increase access to capital; create and market a stronger Colorado brand; educate and train the workforce of the future; and cultivate innovation and technology with a focus on the three E’s of good government: efficiency, effectiveness and elegance. This has solidified my belief in blueprints, plans, and infrastructure.

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, telecommunications, and so forth (see sidebar for more examples). An effective infrastructure in the business world must permit the organization to operate today, and provide flexibility for the future, create potential opportunities, and manage the risks of the business.

I view a spider’s web as a new model to achieve sustainable growth, to create a functional model for entrepreneurship/business, to create synergies, and to develop systems thinking. I have never been fond of spiders myself, but by learning more about them and what they contribute to the ecosystem, I have learned to accept spiders as a part of the natural world that people must learn to live with. Most spiders are harmless to man. Spiders are actually beneficial insects because they cut down on the population of insects that spread disease and are pests for humans. There are over 30,000 identified species of spiders, and only 60 of these species are considered dangerous to humans. Spiders teach us to maintain balance, and everything you do now is weaving what you will encounter in the future.

The odds of a spider successfully catching its prey depend greatly on the size, strength, and design of the web. Common sense tells us that sturdy, tightly woven webs catch more prey than weak webs with large gaps. A spider’s survival is contingent upon its first act, the building of its web. That first project paves the way for the rest of the spider’s existence.

Not only does this design work well for the spider, but provides a great model for us two-legged creatures as well. The simplicity of structure and intricate detail of the spider’s web is something every organization should aspire to achieve. A sturdy, well-designed base allows both leaders and workers to find a quiet vantage point. A spider must have a sturdy, tight web; the web’s design, size, and strength increase its chances of survival. The intricate connections between strands are what support and strengthen the web. The infrastructure of a plan, road, telecommunications, water supply, etc. serves the same purpose as a spider’s web by helping the collaborative effort to acquire essential resources. If you get an opportunity to review the Colorado Blueprint, you will notice that much thought and effort was put into the plan, and many collaborative state government organizations participated ( I applaud the efforts of the group who worked on this to create such a strong “web.” Not only is the state of Colorado making strides in infrastructure, but the stories that you will read in this issue are also making advances.

Blueprints are necessary to build our dreams into real accomplishments. They are what will give us direction and greater purpose. Being committed to visionary goals is the “blueprint” of the future. The Colorado Blueprint is a shining example of connecting in such a way that everyone within the system is properly supported.

Michael Porter says it best in Clusters of Innovation, “A strong physical and information infrastructure is a baseline requirement to establish and sustain a prosperous regional economy: Good quality roads, highways, airports, railroads, water, and power support the efficient movement of people, goods, and services as well as the quality of life of citizens.”