ConstructionSeptember 1, 2021

Planning for the future in a time of uncertainty

Almost 20 years ago, business strategist Gary Hamel and economist Liisa Välikangas coined the term ‘resilience gap’. It suggests that the world is becoming turbulent faster than organisations are becoming resilient, and that many struggle to survive in the face of rapid technological advances, strategic challenges to traditional business models and global crises like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just a few weeks ago, Infrastructure Australia released A Pathway to Infrastructure Resilience, which outlines practical steps to deliver a more resilient infrastructure industry. “The events of recent years have brought Australia’s vulnerability to threats such as bushfires, droughts, floods, pandemic and cyber-attack into sharp relief,” says Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew. But where there is vulnerability, there is also an opportunity for the industry to adopt a new whole-of-systems approach that would ensure local infrastructure can better withstand future disruptions. “We need a shift in focus from the resilience of assets themselves, to the contribution of assets to the resilience of the system,” Madew says. A systems-based approach would focus on planning, shared responsibility and meaningful collaboration to build industry and community resilience.

Shifting Focus

While COVID-19 has dominated the industry and the airwaves for the past 18 months, it pays to remember that this is not the first or last crisis Australia will face. We live in a country that is frequently impacted by natural disasters and Infrastructure Australia estimates that the annual cost of these events is expected to double by 2050, rising from $18 billion a year to more than $39 billion. “There is enormous value in driving systemic change in Australia’s resilience planning,” says Maydew.

It’s essential to understand that resilience is not just about responding to a specific crisis. To be truly resilient, an organisation must be continually anticipating and adapting to change before it has the opportunity to damage the business. As Hamel and Välikangas say, “it’s about having the capacity to change before the case for change becomes desperately obvious”.


The extended lockdown across much of southeastern Australia, which has resulted in partial shutdowns of the construction industry, raises an interesting question for hiring, HR and talent managers in the industry – what now? While it might feel natural to pause recruitment at an uncertain time, things will change rapidly once restrictions lift. At Infrastructure People, we believe that an agile business is a successful business. True resilience starts with planning and having the right people in place ensures that you’re ready for whatever upheavals are on the horizon. Future-proofing your business starts right now.

If you’re interested in hearing more on what Infrastructure People can do for your business, please get in touch with the team today.

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