Friday, June 29, 2007

Building Information Modeling (BIM) Gaining Momentum

Whenever I see professional societies like AIA put their stamp on something, and big development investments by technology companies, I know my FM world is changing again. If you do not yet understand BIM then take a look at and It’s here, it’s real, and I hope to goodness it doesn’t turn out to be a replay of the early days of HVAC interoperability, when we had multiple protocol standards competing for the marketplace. That does not seem to be the case with BIM, however, since the National Institute for Building Sciences is on point in developing the standards.

One caution, I have seen some information that seems to narrow the definition of BIM, referring to it as a 3D model of the building that can be used throughout the life cycle of the facility. That is true, but it is so much more as well. If you are anticipating a BIM project, then make sure your consultants and providers are up to speed and can deliver the real goods.

For a list white papers, a PDF of the Version 1 Standard, published articles and books on the subject, see .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Data Center Power & Cooling Demands Continue to Rise

If you support data centers then you are most likely scrambling to provide more power and cooling as consumption demands continue to trend up. Gartner studies project a 13% compounded annual growth rate, predicting continuing increases in power consumption. This dynamic is largely driven by the move to blade servers in data centers. Blades are smaller, but also more power hungry. Combine the increased power requirement per server with the ability to pack more servers into a data center by virtue of their smaller size, and you have a double whammy affect.

A couple of my colleagues attended the recent IDC conference in San Francisco and came away with insight on key industry trends. These highlights align with our own experiences as we, like most others, grapple with this issue.

Virtualization of servers (combining multiple applications on one server) is foundational to managing computer center energy consumption.

The new C Class server blades are more energy efficient and allow greater virtualization. Helpful, but marginally so as the efficiency improvements do not reach the levels needed to fully offset increased density. Still, it is a definite step in the right direction.

Greening of data centers is gaining momentum and becoming more important to data center operators and FM’s who support them. In part because of the “greening” of American business, but also because of the financial penalties of not being energy efficient. Users are no longer saying “get me more power at any cost.” Now they are saying, “get me the power I need in the most efficient manner possible.”

For more information on data center issues and trends see the IDC website at .

Monday, June 25, 2007

Three Maxims Fighter Pilots Swear By – And So Should You

“Check Six” No fighter pilot ever wants to be engaged in battle and not know what is in his or her six o’clock position, directly behind. Do you know what’s on your Six? What is the issue that you know is there but don’t have the time to deal with? How will you know when it moves from being a nuisance to a threat, and how are you going to deal with it?

“Speed Is Life” In airplanes, speed is energy. It is an asset. You can trade it for altitude, give it up for tactical position, use it to attack, or use it to escape. In business, speed is one of our most important assets. Develop it, sustain it, and use it wisely. It makes a difference.

“Keep the Sharp End Pointed Forward” Pretty basic isn’t it? Point the sharp end of an airplane in another direction and bad things can happen, fast. What is the sharp end of your business? Is it the knowledge of your team? Then make sure they remain pointed forward, maintain momentum, and continue to develop as new knowledge emerges.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Collect the Right Dots

We often speak of the importance of connecting the dots, drawing meaningful relationships between disparate pieces of information and using them to develop conclusions upon which we base strategy and tactics. But what if the dots aren’t the right dots?

Having data is one thing, having the right data is sometimes another. How long has it been since you built your metrics system? Is what you are measuring still relevant? Are you routinely looking at the information being collected, but neglecting to rethink what it is you really need to know? Have you gotten so accustomed to your balanced scorecard, dashboard, and checklists that they have become routine to you?

Metrics are an important tool, but so is your gut. Don’t forget to check them both.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Quotes

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world. - John Le Carre.
Get out of your office and go see what's really going on out there!

Facts are friendly. - J. Irwin Miller
'Nuff said.

Nothing endures but change. - Heraclitus
Want to argue this one?

Shoot the guy who shoots the messenger.
I don't know who said this, but bless 'em!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Create Your Own Value

FM departments are notorious for not having all the resources needed to fulfill the mission. Yet virtually every one of us has small margins scattered about, people or budget line items that are under utilized. The question isn't what you have, it's what you're doing with it.

Smart FM leaders create their own value by putting the margin to work. If you are really aligned with corporate priorities and in tune with your customers and know what they need, maybe even before they realize it, then you have a value opportunity. Take advantage of it. Lead by thinking and then challenging. Take on new initiatives that look over the horizon and make a difference. Don't just lead the FM organization, use these opportunities to lead the entire organization. Create value.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

FM Metrics

If you are like the rest of us, you are hearing and learning more about FM metrics and building your own systems. Here are a few links to resources. If you are wondering what all the buzz is about these will be good starter points. Shows a variety of dashboard examples that may give you ideas on how to communicate metrics data to staff and management. A list of good articles covering the why and how of metrics programs. A research paper sponsored by BRIDGES to Sustainability, focused on metrics development and database management. An article from APPA's magazine, illustrating the use of metrics in asset management decision making. Queen's University in Ontario used APPA's methodology to map their Physical Plant Improvement Programme. Good information and roadmap.

OK, that's enough to get you started. Good hunting.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Relationships and Results

All of us in the FM business are aware of the role conflict plays in our daily lives. We never have enough money or people to get the job done, priorities keep shifting, and ambiguity reigns supreme. In that type of environment conflict is inevitable. If you spend your time trying to avoid it, then you are spending your time avoiding your responsibilities. In fact, some might say that conflict is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. How often do you reach for it?

I am not suggesting that you create conflict. I am suggesting that you take advantage of it when it presents itself. Conflict is always an opportunity for open and honest dialogue. It allows us to demonstrate our respect for each other in the way we act, always being respectful and inclusive, with the courage to be direct when needed. Relationship management is key to conflict resolution. Good relationships foster open and candid talk, which leads to right decisions. Right decisions lead to good results.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Feel Like Reforming Your PM Shop?

Then I've got just the place for you. Check out for lots of great info and tips. It is a great blog run by a guy named Hal (man or machine?) and is one of the best sources of practical Lean / Kaizen thinking I've seen as the disciplines relate to the building design and construction industry. The current post has a list of 10 rules for improving PM performance, whether you are a one-person shop or leading a PMO. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Facilities Bring New Operational Realities

When we moved to our new headquarter facility many things changed. Staff expected the new building to be different, but few outside of the Facilities Services group understood the degree to which a new building requires new processes, new skills, and new efficiencies. Moving from facilities that were built in 1950 to a new state-of-the-art building, we were faced with a number of challenges in helping the entire organization make a successful operational transition. The old building had no air conditioning system and required minimal skills to support Plant Engineering operations, there was no building management technology in place, all facilities processes were paper-based, and the number of conference rooms was significantly short of demand. The transition required maximizing building efficiencies in all domains, increasing service levels and skill sets, and providing work flow management and room reservation systems to maximize utilization of resources.

To affect these significant changes a set of core strategies was articulated, accepted, and acted upon. They included outsourcing the Plant Engineering function in order to gain leverage on professional skill, resourcing, and technology issues. We also implemented a full suite of technology applications, including CAFM, CMMS, BMS, Helpdesk, Visitor Hoteling, and Conference Scheduling/Support with legacy systems such as PeopleSoft and the security system. This aggressive shift to technology integration supported an effort to re-engineer core processes in a first-tier effort, with later process work to focus on second and third tier processes.

Importantly, the new facility brought with it new costs. Using IFMA and BOMA benchmarking data and historical expense information, we were able to model ourselves against best-in-class organizations and identify opportunities for maximum improvement. That, in turn, has led to a current effort to project building operating and capital requirements well into the future using APPA methodologies, defining different options for level of care and service, and their associated costs. This effort is proving extremely beneficial in informing the organization about service level risks and opportunities, helping executives make well informed decisions about the use of corporate resources.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Investing 101

Ever thought about how life's best answers are usually the simplest (notice I did not say the easiest)? For example, investing. Want more money? Deny yourself and save some of what you have. Want more energy? Expend the energy you have in exercise until you're exhausted. Want trust from others? Give them yours first. Want love? You know the answer already, don't you?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Leadership Capital

I am sure that you routinely listen to financial market reports, and if you are like me, you do the math in your head to approximate the impact on your own part of the financial universe. If you happen to be one of those who does your own investing and financial management, then you pay very close attention to the capital markets, indeed. Each of us, however, possesses another kind of capital. We spend it, give it, receive it, and collect interest on it everyday. It is the influence we possess - our ability to have an impact and make a difference in the world and lives around us. And in this case, we choose on a moment-by-moment basis where and how it is invested.

My guess is that most of us have little idea of the amount of influence we carry. I recall receiving an email years ago, one of those great stories that make you stop and think. It was about a very simple act of kindness and the life-saving, life-changing impact it had - all of which was unknown to the person performing the act. In this particular story, a young man was a student at a new high school where he simply did not fit in. Teasing, intimidation and mockery were his daily diet. Alone in a new school and not able to make friends, he was miserable. Walking home one day he dropped his books. Another young man saw this, crossed the street and offered to help. Assisting his new acquaintance he helped the boy home. Over time the acquaintance became a deep friendship. Years later this young man sat at his high school graduation ceremony listening to the Valedictorian, the boy he had helped that day, describe the impact of friendship on his life. He was stunned to learn that on that fateful day his friend was walking home with the intent of committing suicide. This class Valedictorian, captain of the baseball team and honor student had been in such despair that he was about to do the unthinkable until a simple act of kindness changed his course.

The point of this story? The boy who performed the act of kindness had no idea of the dire circumstance that was playing out, yet his action, as casual as it was, had an enormous impact. In short, he was unaware of the influence he was having. I think the same can be said for most of us. Here are a few simple thoughts on influence for you to consider:

Everyone Influences Someone: At every level of our lives we are in constant contact and interaction with others. Even the most introverted person cannot escape the reality that they personally influence thousands of people. But beyond casual influence, there is a purposeful influence that is a key to leadership. This kind of influence is thought out and implemented by design, not haphazardly. Its motivating desire is to help shape the thoughts, development and character of those being influenced.

We Seldom Know Whom or How Much We Influence: Although these questions are generational, you can ask them of people and get immediate emotional responses: Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated? Where were you when the Challenger exploded? Where you you on 9/11? Those were big events; we expect them to be indelibly written in our hearts. But there are in each of our lives a host of smaller, character-building, career-enhancing and life-defining moments and relationships that the entire world doesn’t know about. In my own life I think instantly of a high school teacher, a friend of my parent’s, a fellow aircrew member, and a mentor in my professional career. Each of these has left a mark on my life that will never be erased – none of them set out purposefully to do so.

The Best Investment in the Future is a Proper Influence Today: The question is never whether you will influence someone, rather it is twofold: Who will you influence, and who will you allow to influence you? I count myself fortunate to have had mentors who decided to invest themselves in my life and career. It is a partnership, and not always an easy or comfortable one. This investment runs in both directions, unable to be given if the intended receiver is unwilling. An appropriate challenge to each of us is to consciously think about whom it is that we wish to be influenced by in our professional career. Who is it that models the professional development and character that you wish to attain? How can your relationship with that person be strengthened so that you can closely observe how they have obtained and share their influence, and be in a position to gain from their experience?

Influence Is a Skill That Can Be Developed: Yes, there is hope! Leadership and influence are inexorably linked, you cannot have one without the other. Fortunately both are learned skills. There is no course or class, no diploma to mark your passing to a position of “influence.” It is one result of your experiences as you think about, envision, plan, and live the life you choose. Your career will bring success and success will bring recognition. With recognition comes the opportunity for influence on a wider scale. Do you know what your personal “Influence Quotient” is? Do you know where you need development in order to gain more influence? Do you know how to exercise your influence? Have you engaged in an influence development partnership, either as a mentor or the one being mentored?

Financial markets will fluctuate on a day-to-day basis and the value of the capital invested in them will vary greatly. But the investment decisions we make with our “Influence Capital” are under our direct control, captive to no one else. What we do with them will go far in defining the quality of our lives and our leadership.

“Influence.” We all have it. How are you investing yours?

Who Is This Guy?

I am a late-50's FM professional with thirty years of corporate FM life under my belt. If you mention Lockheed, Citicorp, RAND or a few other places I would nod and say, "yep, been there done that." Most of my career has been as a corporate FM running large capital projects and multi site operations, including a 1.8M sq. ft. electronics manufacturing/distribution facility, several corporate HQ campuses, and large data centers. I have worked with non-profits (a large mega-church and RAND) and as a consultant (VP/GM of an Architecture/Interiors firm). Along the way I have picked up a few tricks and made many friends.

All of life is not work, however. We all have hobbies. Mine are listening to music (mostly jazz), radio scanning, and all things aviation. Don't be surprised if you hear about those from time to time as well.