While waiting for further questions from webinar participants, Heather shared the many issues around asset management, particularly how to engage governing bodies in participating or supporting actively in the asset management program.
She asked Ross to respond to the questions below and share his infrastructure asset management experiences in New Zealand.
- What are some of the big issues happening in asset management?
- What are some of the big things that we’ve seen around the country as I’ve done training?
- How do we talk to our governing bodies? This is an issue keeps coming up over and over and over.
- Whoever it is that’s governing your water utility, how do we get them engaged in the asset management plan?
- How do we get them to understand what we’re doing?
- How to engage them? A very common question
Okay. I thought I would answer this in three answers initially.
The first one is, when you’re dealing with your governing bodies. We have exactly the same issue in New Zealand and I know Australia has the same issue as well.
I think you’ve got to remember that you’re an industry professional. This is your job. You do this day in and day out. You think about it every day for seven or eight or nine or if you’re mad ten or 11 hours a day.
That’s me, I’m talking about being mad, I live and breathe this stuff. But the elected representative is not a professional in your industry normally. They might be probably in a completely different professional background.
So they don’t know is the first thing. They’re on this board or this commission or whatever but they don’t know the level of detail you have and professional training that you do.
Communicate with them and keep communicating
The first thing that comes out of that is that you have to communicate with them and you have to keep communicating. And when you think you’ve communicated enough that’s normally only about ten percent of what you need.
And it’s a communication and an education. It’s not treating them like dummies or anything like that. But it’s just realizing that they don’t have the background of knowledge that you have and that you have to bring up that knowledge background as you work with them.
And you have to keep communicating the ideas and concepts to them. At that level, making sure that you repeat that.
And remembering too that election cycle that’s four. In New Zealand it’s only three years. So we can have, almost the complete swap over in three years.
Often it’s not – only a few people but you have a four-year cycle here. So you’re going to get new people and this is the cycle that you have to get into.
Because managing utilities is a long-term job and so you keep educating and keep communicating with the governance layer or the governance boards.
And that’s just something you need to build into what you’re doing because it never goes away. So that’s number one.
Read the two more answers Ross shared by clicking on the links below:
- Don’t be bogged down by technical details
- Take time to communicate and build consensus in your community
PHOTO CREDIT: Joey Lax-Salinas via Flickr Creative Commons License