Still rough thoughts, but...
You can imagine a city that has high quality mining, ore refining, blacksmithing, swordsmithing, leather work, and thriving markets.
The quality of these institutions all reinforce the other...
It's not just the infrastructure of ore --> refining --> smithing --> sales, it's also even basic taken-for-granted elements like knowing which smiths work on reliable timetables, whose ore is consistently made well, and the basic personalities of the various proprietors.
Heck, even knowing the correct addresses and how to navigate the city streets is valuable.
All of these things don't appear on a balance sheet, but there's something to them. The infrastructure isn't solely the physical infrastructure - it's not just the smiths, anvils, tools, transport, whatever. It's also the relationships between those.
Nobody can claim those as their own. They're not assets in the conventional sense of the word. But intuitively, we understand that the relationships between these elements contributes to thriving industries.
I think we can call this "cultural infrastructure" - less about the physical stuff, and more about the relationships and interplay between the different people working on the physical stuff.
I came across your site a few days ago after a friend posted a link to your "What Skills Do You Need to be an Entrepreneur? Only Two" article. While I've read many different blogging sites about similar topics, there was something about your writing that has compelled me to stay on your site and read through dozens of your articles. In fact, of all the sites/blogs I have read, you are the first I have attempted to contact. You seem like a really interesting guy, and you have certainly inspired me.
Anyways, I read in one of your works that you aren't much a fan of small talk (nor am I), so I'll cut straight to my questions:
What are you thoughts on Ayn Rand? Have you read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead? The reason I ask is because a lot of your writing seems to reflect some of the core points of her philosophy, at least on an individual perspective (as portrayed in The Fountainhead). I'm not sure how you feel about her philosophy for a society as a whole, as in Atlas Shrugged.
If you've never read her before, here is a good excerpt of her thoughts on money (to get an idea of what her books are like):http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/economics/money/1826-francisco-s-money-speech.html
Organisations touch our lives everyday, in one way or another, whether you like it or not. We simply cant do without them. From schooling to healthcare, from entertainment to electronics, from food to shelter - organisations touch every aspect of our lives. There are charity organisations, non-profits, non-governmental and for profit organisations. Be it any kind of org, if it needs to be successful and be effective in carrying out its mission, its purpose, then it certainly needs some kind of organising plan. We can call it a business model (even though not all orgs are businesses; we can use the word business in its broadest sense).
The point of this post is not to elaborate on the pros and cons of business models. I simply want to draw your attention to the similarity (often unnoticed) between an organisation (say, a business org) and your career. I think its an interesting similarity.
Every business (and a business plan) has to focus on some key parameters or elements in order to make sense of its existence and be effective in achieving its goals. Like, for example, a business needs to identify who its key customers are, how it plans to engage with these customers and what customers actually want. It also needs to know what its strengths are, its key relationships, its value chain, its cost and its revenue model, among other things. Clarity on some of these key elements are necessary (though they may not be entirely sufficient) for any organisation to achieve its true potential. Typically, these factors and many other facets of a business are covered in great detail in a business plan. This document then becomes a guiding light for members of organisations. Of course, the model can be dynamic (at least the effective ones are) and will need to be modified to reflect actual experiences and changing expectations of all stakeholders.
Now consider your own career. How different is it to the workings of an organisation? Don't elements like customers, value addition, costs and revenues make sense from a career point-of-view as well? Well, I think so and let me explain. Just like any business, you too have customers (the company or organisation you work for). You have costs (in terms of your time spent and other opportunity costs). You certainly need to know your strengths and weaknesses. You need to know your network of key relationships, both inside and outside your organisation. These days you do need a marketing plan and a "personal branding" strategy. Your revenue model is quite simply your compensation (in all its forms). You would do well to have an idea of how you add value to your organisation. You do make investments in many forms like a college education. So, in effect, all those elements apply to you as much as it applies to a business. You are not much different from a business at all, are you?