Monday, July 30, 2007

Deepening FM Trends

Every once in a while one of the trade magazines, IFMA, BOMA or one of the other organizations will produce a list of emerging FM trends. Usually these are over the horizon looks at issues most of us have not yet begun to pay much attention to. Some of those “emerging” trends mature to become important elements of our profession. Here are three that I think have made that transition.

The line between FM and IT continues to blur. I do not know of an FM shop that isn’t working hard to integrate with IT on the applications side (CMMS, BMS, Workflow, CAFM, etc.), but now more and more are integrating organizationally as well. Citicorp and HP are two that come immediately to mind where cross-pollinization of IT/FM management teams is being used to increase the speed and reach of integration.

Increased interest in Security is here to stay. As one sign of this, biometrics, long a part of work performed by and for the government, is now moving down to lower tiers. Major corporations and outsource providers are installing many more biometric access control systems, and use is projected to increase dramatically. Additionally, exercise scenarios have now begun to trickle down to operational planning at the local level and among larger enterprises that are attentive to their risk profile.

Investment in intelligent building systems continues to rise. Energy demand, prices, and geopolitical uncertainty will remain high for the foreseeable future, placing a premium on smart consumption. Also contributing to this trend is the increasing emphasis on green building as more mainline companies take a proactive stance, helping to increase environmental leverage.

As FM’s we are dealing with all of these issues. Each affects the what, where, when, and how of the things we do in support of our businesses. We need to speak languages we haven’t spoken before, compete for jobs we haven’t competed for before, and be leaders of change in our work, physical, and cultural environments. If you haven’t already, get your game on!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Can’t We Get A Decision Around Here?

Have you ever wondered that silently, or even aloud? You are not alone. Decision making is at the heart of business, and most often at the heart of the state of a business. Organizations that make important decisions well and execute them well excel. One’s that don’t, don’t. It really is that simple. Why then, do so many have trouble making decisions, or spend their time on less important decisions? A few thoughts, if I may.

Focus on first things first. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But many don’t. In the hustle of the day we all too often forget about priorities. Critical strategic and operational decisions should be at the top of your To Do list every single day, and time should be specifically allocated to think, process, and make those decisions.

Accountability trumps ambiguity. Holding people responsible for their role in decision making keeps the decision at the top of their To Do list. Don’t let it, or the phone, grow moss. If someone is late with a deliverable that contributes to an important decision, remind them quickly.

Analyze, then act decisively. Yes, you must analyze, but don’t overdo it. Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) gave a briefing on leadership that has become a cult classic, I am sure many of you have seen it. Look again at slide 16…

“Part I: "Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired.”

"Part II: "Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut."

"Don't take action if you have only enough information to give you less than a 40 percent chance of being right, but don't wait until you have enough facts to be100 percent sure, because by then it is almost always too late. Today, excessive delays in the name of information-gathering breeds "analysis paralysis." Procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.”

I once saw Gen. Powell present this brief and on this point he made a remarkable statement. Let me paraphrase it here: At 40% of available information you have enough to make non-critical decisions. As the importance of the decision escalates so too should the percentage of available information. When you have 70% of the available information you have enough to make the most important and critical decisions of your life.

Speed and agility go hand in hand. Making good decisions is just the first step. Good organizations do not stop there. They execute with laser-like focus and retain the ability to adapt quickly to changing environments. Accountability is the key to the former and good intelligence and role definition is the key to the latter.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Article Published in FMJ

If you are a member of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) then check out my article on metrics programs on page 50 of the July/August issue of the Facility Management Journal, or see it at .

Monday, July 16, 2007

Recipe for Successful Change

There are many formulas for leading successful change. If you are in the change agent role just make sure you pick which formula you will use thoughtfully, and then use it consistently. Nothing will increase ambiguity in a change effort like a methodology that does not seem well thought out or anchored.

Like I said, there are many formulas, but there is one that I find especially effective. Like most things that work well, it is simple.

Create a sense of urgency: Without an over riding reason to go through the effort and pain that significant change requires, most organizations will never get there despite their best intentions. Without urgency, it is too easy to delay and focus on putting out the fires that pop up every day, or to compromise inappropriately when hard choices must be made. Good leaders know how to recognize, create, and use crises in order to accomplish significant positive change.

Remove barriers to success: Many of these barriers will be in the minds of the organization, but a few may be in the seats. You have to know how to identify the sources of low performance and then be willing to go after them. Your number one job as the leader is to remove obstacles to the success of others. Make sure they have the tools, training, and support they need – help THEM succeed.. That’s your job!

Recruit champions: It is important that you have organizational leadership as part of the group of champions. They, after all, control the resources you need. But you will need other champions as well, people who are influencers but not in the executive suite. Do not be seduced by charismatic leaders who have energy and appeal, but lack knowledge, credibility, or constituency. Finally, be sure to recruit new champions along the way as the initiative continues, especially if it is a long-running effort. Doing so will bring new ideas, new energy, and help buffer against natural attrition.

Build internal momentum: Start by building coalitions of people at all levels of the organization and from a cross section of stakeholders. Give them the freedom to operate outside of normal systems and channels, and give them a clear plan that has already been endorsed by executive management. Then, go grab some low hanging fruit as a way of getting started. These short term wins are important to building momentum and energy, and demonstrating credibility.

Prove that change works: Here’s that “metrics” word again. You will need them to establish baselines and to track and demonstrate the improvements the change effort is delivering. Remember, data is king. Use it to communicate results, identify opportunities, and manage priorities. Additionally, think about the sequencing of initiatives and stagger them so that a series of smaller projects finish while you are working on bigger projects that take more time. Those smaller successes help sustain momentum and credibility, and keep people engaged who might otherwise be sitting on the sideline.

Continue experimenting: Don’t be surprised when something goes wrong, it’s guaranteed to happen. Big change projects are complicated and it is unrealistic to expect all to go perfectly. Do not become disillusioned when it gets messy. Each problem represents learning and opportunity. Treat them that way and you will serve the process and your team well.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Talking to the C-Suite? Then Speak Their Language!

One of the issues I typically see PM’s and FM’s struggling with is getting C-Suite buy-in to project and operational proposals. Yet, when you ask those who reside in the C-Suite they often respond that the information presented to them fails to address their concerns and needs. What then, are their information needs?

Understanding the priorities within your own C-Suite is critical to answering that question. Then you can decide what tactics support those priorities and craft your communications to articulate your project in a manner that clearly identifies its implications to those needs. Generally speaking, the list of things C-Suite executives care about is actually fairly short:

Competitive Advantage
Customer Satisfaction
Risk Management

Put your project proposals and updates into these terms and your message will be heard and understood.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Advantages of A Continuous Decision Making Cycle in Project Management

In case you haven’t noticed, the volume, speed, and quality of information you need to deliver successful projects continues to increase across all three dimensions. Why is it then that many of our projects are organized and managed as if they are static monoliths instead of the organic entities that they are? In any large project the risks of delivering tomorrow what you needed yesterday is significant. The speed of change in today’s business world often times means that by the time you finish a project the environment and needs that originally justified it have changed. If you have not adapted the project to the new needs as they evolve, then you will at best strand some portion of your investment at project completion. If it is a large project then you can count on the stranded portion being large as well (there’s that pesky “Law of Large Numbers” again!).

One management model that seeks to overcome this dilemma is Continuous Decision-Oriented Governance. In this model critical strategic issues are identified and continuously checked. Key project executives are responsible for conducting due diligence and making top level decisions that redirect the project while it is in progress. Best implemented with lean management teams, the executive team’s focus is on the “next” major issue/milestone, having made the mid-course corrections needed for the last and leaving tactical staff to implement those. Think of it as Just In Time decision making for the project process, but with the difference that it extends throughout the life of the project, not just the pre-construction or pre-implementation phase. In the end, this methodology can lead to an end result that supports current business needs and strategies instead of ones that are outdated at project completion.

The critical elements in this concept are information, analysis, and data-based decision making. It is a requirement that the proper tools (strategic plans, financial data, able analysis, partnered executives, etc.) be fully integrated and aligned in this approach. It puts a maximum premium on agile execution, resulting in a project that is managed from a business perspective, not a bricks and mortar perspective.

Finally, lest anyone think this sounds like a recipe for chaos and project anarchy, let me set the boundaries. This governance model is intended to work within the framework of well thought out project objectives and must continually adhere to those. The framework, however, should provide flexibility to allow the executive team leading the project room to maneuver, in order to adjust to changing business needs and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Ever Feel Like You Are Re-Learning Lessons Learned?

I know that at the end of every project you include identifying lessons learned as part of the summary process. But I sometimes wonder how long these lessons are retained in institutional memory. In really good organizations they become immediate attention items and targets for process redesign, but in most they are little more than a bullet point statement on an end-of-project PowerPoint brief.

There are ways to be more proactive in making sure these lessons learned are really learned, and not repeated. First, make the review of prior lessons learned a required part of every new project’s launch process. Secondly, make learning (both new knowledge and old lessons) a part of the project scorecard. The increased up front attention and continuing visibility / reporting through the project life cycle will pay off.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Practice What You Believe

In his book Leadership Is An Art, Max DePree told a story about the belief and commitment of the noted English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Wren once built a structure in London and his employers claimed that a certain span he had planned was too wide and insisted that he add another row of columns for support. Sir Christopher finally gave in and agreed. He added the row of columns, but left a space between them and the beams above.

“The worthies of London could not see this space from the ground. To this day, the beam has not sagged. The columns still stand firm, supporting nothing but Wren’s conviction.”

At the end of the day Leadership is about commitment.

Commitment to your beliefs, so much so that you will choose them over expedience when hard tests come.

Commitment to your people, to be honest with them, even when it isn’t easy.

Commitment to yourself, so that you will have confidence when others don’t.

Leadership is about all of these and more, but mostly it is about how you transfer what you believe into what you DO.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The History and Future of CRE

How are CRE and FM organizations morphing themselves in order to support global enterprises while increasing their service, financial values, and leaning themselves? One answer can be found in the Integrated Resource and Infrastructure Solutions (IRIS) vision of CRE in the year 2010. Sponsored by CoreNet Global, the CRE 2010 study investigated organizational model and infrastructure trends in the industry. Here is a summary of the evolution the project traced and predicted.

Stage 1 (60’s): CRE groups formed, centralization begins, some out-tasking, few vendors

Stage 2 (80’s): Large CRE departments, some out-tasking, few vendors

Stage 3 (early 90’s): CRE departments downsize, increased out-tasking, many vendors

Stage 4 (mid-90’s): CRE downsizes again, smaller number of preferred vendors

Stage 5 (late 90’s): Small and strategically focused CRE staff, small number of alliance partners
accountable for services on a regional basis, second tier vendors support alliance partners

Stage 6 (early 2000’s): Very small CRE staff, small number of strategic partners, second tier alliance partners

Stage 7 (mid-2000’s): Very small CRE staff, a single strategic partner, vendors support single strategic partner

The evolution has been driven in large measure by mergers, acquisitions, and globalization, resulting in corporate CRE departments in large companies that are no longer the doers as much as they are the strategists. More and more we see regional/global strategic partners adding their value to the strategy mix as they leverage their advantages of scale.

If you are wondering how your organization needs to evolve in order to increase its value and remain competitive and relevant, then check yourself against the pathway outlined above. Most global and many large domestic CRE/FM organizations today are in Stage 6. And, you don’t have to be one of the big guys either. As the trends continue the trickle down affects will offer advantages to mid-tier organizations as well.

If you would like to read more about the CoRE 2010 project and how CRE practitioners are putting the concepts to work in real life, see the FM Link article at