[LINK] Smart enough for the 2020 forum?

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Mon Feb 4 16:58:50 EST 2008

You might regret asking, but here's my take on the 2020 thingie.

I am an engineer and systems developer. I work in an environment of 
projects where things get created and implemented. The 2020 summit is 
equivalent to the development process of a business case where options 
are canvassed and evaluated.

And in Federal Government budget terms a project is referred to as a policy.

I have made a study of projects that go wrong and there is always a 
common factor. Projects fail because the people working on the project 
are trying to answer the wrong question. This happens because certain 
key initial decisions have been made which set the wrong direction for 
the project. These key initial decisions are usually made in the 
preparation of the business case.

Like many government policies, it is not the intent that is at fault but 
the way the policy is framed and then the mechanism by which the policy 
is implemented. Poor assumptions are made, symptoms are addressed, 
causes not recognised.

In the case of the 2020 summit, I believe that the selection of the 10 
areas for consideration falls into this category.

According to the Prime Minister's Media release the summit is "to tackle 
the long term challenges confronting Australia's future –challenges 
which require long-term responses from the nation beyond the usual three 
year electoral cycle."

In my view the fundamentals of a society are Education, Justice and 
Health. Only one of these is one of the 10 areas (Health) and Education 
is seen as a subset of the economy. Justice is not even mentioned.

By neglecting to treat Education as an area of its own and Justice at 
all, the 2020 summit has already been crippled. As the process unfolds, 
it might be perceived to achieve some goals but, without addressing 
Education and Justice properly, the outcomes will be significantly diluted.

And like most failed projects, this summit now has a life of its own and 
it will go its merry way, with everyone focussing on "doing things" 
rather than optimally achieving the original goal of helping to "tackle 
the long term challenges confronting Australia's future".

What would have been a better idea would have been to have had a debate 
on the structure of the summit itself. That would not guarantee am 
optimal outcome, but it is highly likely that a different set of areas 
and questions would be raised - ones that are closer to causes rather 
than symptoms.

I have no doubt that I won't get called to Canberra because I am 
challenging the basis on which the project^H^H^H^H^H^H^H summit is 
predicated. And PMs (Project Managers or Prime Ministers) do not like 
being challenged.

The idea of summit was a good idea. Pity it's already gone down the 
wrong path.

Sylvano wrote:

> Dear Linkers
> I am under no illusion that Rudd and his steering committees will be
> calling me, but I figure at least one the more eminent members of
> Link must surely be judged sufficiently intelligent, experienced and
> well connected to qualify for inclusion in the 2020 forum.
> I am interested to hear what others think of this kind of exercise,
> how Australia's info-tech future will benefit and whether they'd go
> if invited?
> Of the ten areas touted for discussion, five at least look to have
> lines of inquiry that directly relate to IT, internet, electronic
> infrustructure, etc. And all ten certainly depend upon these areas
> indirectly in some way.
> http://www.pm.gov.au/news/releases/2008/media_release_00020.cfm
> I can't help but whince when contemplating the conflation of the many
> goals in this press release, including the encouragement of ideas,
> the fostering of discussion and debate, developing policy,
> formulating strategies and identifying distinct technological
> implementation plans.
> Oh... and just remember if you do go, you don't represent Link or any
> other organisation...
> regards ylvano
> http://www.gnomon.com.au/
> _______________________________________________ Link mailing list 
> Link at mailman.anu.edu.au 
> http://mailman.anu.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/link



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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