I hate starting out anything of consequence with a definition. It moves whatever you have to say from being intimate and conversational to something that is bland at best. Antiseptic, at its worst.
Unfortunately, there are times a definition is critical to the point you are trying to make. Infrastructure is an example of one of those times because it so often remains hidden.
Hidden how? Let’s take a look.
You can start by defining infrastructure as “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” Therefore, it is the foundation upon which we build everything that allows us to function. The biggest problem we have with infrastructure is that it is too often taken for granted. Too often invisible.
We use it. Take advantage of it. Depend on it. All without taking the time to consider the critical role it plays in our ability to do just about everything else we do. This is certainly true of the physical examples of infrastructure offered above. But it is also true of the systems and processes we create to build consistency and ensure high-performance results in everything else we do. The structure that allows us to do more. To be more.
The worst part of ignoring infrastructure is that too often we take it for granted, discounting the important role it can provide us. Strong policies, procedures, and systems make us better and what we do easier!
The real problem occurs when we confuse our own effort and ability with the amplification provided by a powerful and robust superstructure of policies, procedures, and systems. When we start believing that we are more than the systems we have created to enhance our performance.