THE REASONS WHY FUTUREPROOFING IS A DUMB WORD…
And why we’ll always need estimators
I spend a lot of time researching our clients, and I’m constantly impressed by the work they do. I love reading about companies that design greenspace as an essential part of new infrastructure, or are driven to grow diversity in their workforce because they know it enriches their talent pool and culture. But of all the inspiring things I read, the one that makes me laugh is when people talk about “futureproofing”.
Why? It’s a dumb word
You can’t futureproof, because you can only predict so much. And if you try to protect against every contingency (the next pandemic, asteroid strike, zombie apocalypse) you’ll never take risks.
And considered, calculated risks are what we need. Estimators do it all the time. They cost and calculate and measure and plan, but at the end of the day they have to put a figure on a page and say, “Yes, this is how much I think it will cost if we do it this way.”
They do their best not to be wrong. They use the best estimating software they can get their hands on; they factor in sensible contingencies. They take the visions of the architects, pore over the plans of the engineers and put a price on a project so it can be built (or not, if it’s a feasibility study!).
But they are not so naïve as to think their costings are gospel. Things change—extreme weather events, a captain thinking he can do a handbrake turn in the Suez… An estimate is not “futureproof”, but it is a damn good place to start.
We need cohesive plans for our economy and infrastructure that think beyond a politician’s short timeframe of a term or two in office. I admire councils and companies that are proactive, not reactive, and think about the legacy they will leave to improve the lives of generations to come.
But the things they build will not last forever. Humanity’s needs will change. Unpredictable things will happen. And so, we will continue to dream, and design, and build.
We’re always going to need estimators.