Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Wrap Up

Just finished my last two sessions of the conference, both very good.

FM of Tomorrow, Dean Kashiwagi, Ph.D., P.E., Arizona State University, Performance Based Studies Group
Dean's message to FM's is that our profession will not exist in the near future, at least not as we know it today.  In essence FM's today are expected to be experts in many areas, but the more "expert" you become the more silo'd you become as well, and that counters the trend in business towards strategic thought and relationships.

He suggests that a better model for FM is that we become strategic in everything we do and in HOW we do it.  Addressing the needs of executives requires thinking as they do, which is about value first.  Instead of buying a product or service think in terms of the entire supply chain, focusing on value instead of cost cutting. 

A key benefit of this shift is that it will closer align FM with enterprise strategy and allow FM to react quicker to strategic moves at the enterprise level.  Key steps in the business model shift include:

  • Looking up, not down
  • Aligning education and training focus
  • Find visionary models to emulate
  • Implement the new philosophy
At the bottom line, Dean's core message was that FM must become much more strategic and take the big view in order to act as leaders and align with businesses.  Everything beyond that becomes transactional, and there is no leverage, little opportunity, and less fun when you are purely transactional.

Nine Transforming Keys to Lowering Cost, Cutting Waste and Driving Change in a Broken Industry, Rex Miller, TAG Consulting
There was a lot of meat in this presentation even before Rex got to the nine transformational keys.  He described in vivid terms how broken the design and construction process is and how the myopic focus on cost reduction by Owner's is really working against their twin goals of lower cost and higher quality.  From there he briefly explained BIM, IPD and how their convergence with economic crisis are reshaping the industry.  Good stuff.  I picked up a copy of The Commercial Real Estate Revolution co-authored by Rex with Dean Strombom, Marik Iammarino, and Bill Black.  In the book they explain the nine keys in detail, here is a quick summary of what you will find.

Key 1   Trust-Based Team Formation enables you to select your entire project team and putting them together as a team before schematic design begins.

Key 2  Early Collaboration allows the team to redefine project management around a specific project's unique requirements. 

Key 3  Built-In Sustainability is a core principle and should be intentional and an integral part of every project.  When done right it costs no more than conventional building and payback begins immediately, not 3-5 years down the road.

Key 4  Transformational Leadership is required to break the business mold built for the past and envision what can be.  It will require facing reality and allowing others to do the same.

Key 5  "BIG" BIM refers to the impact that BIM technology is having on our industry.  It is big and it is going to get bigger.  It is fundamentally changing the way we do business in the design/build industry.

Key 6  Integrating Project Delivery (IPD) brings together a number of elements (collaboration and trust, BIM, lean construction, social networks) to integrate all components and entities of the design/construct process.

Key 7   Trust-Based Agreements and Client-Centered Incentives describes the process of defining participant needs and incentive/risk sharing in these new working models.

Key 8  Offsite Construction, or "manufactured construction" speaks to the advantages of paralleling construction processes typically done sequentially, with obvious time and cost benefits.

Key 9  Workplace Productivity conditions include interconnection, complexity, acceleration, intangibility, convergence, immediacy, and unpredictability.  Each is becoming more important, none are growing at the expense of others.

All in all, two great sessions this morning and a fitting wrap-up to my personal educational experience at this year's conference.  Now I get a couple of hours to do "work work" before tonight's Awards of Excellence affair.  Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Welcome Reception at Georgia Acquarium

A few random images of the event, including some creatures you may characterize as FM'ers, customers and service providers. 

Scenes from the IFMA Foundation Gala

Nostalgia done Coke style
Coke and baseball - American traditions
No speeches, good music, plenty of folks

Pam Kalmus, Orren Gray, Linda Beverly, Patricia McLaughlin

Diane Coles and Orren Gray with friend

The Honorable Alexis Herman Keynotes IFMA Conference

"If your current reality defines your future state you will not be successful in the workplace of the future."

With those words the Honorable Alexis Herman, former Secretary of Labor closed her keynote remarks before IFMA members assembled to launch this year's WorldWorkplace conference.  During her comments she made telling points that resonated throughout the gathering of over 3,000.

Polarization of the workforce is obviously a major demographic issue.  We all know the story, Boomers are leaving (or sometimes not) and Gen X and Gen Y members entering the professional force.  On the whole, 30% of the workforce today is comprised of Boomers, but 40%-45% of key positions in key industries are occupied by Boomers.  When Boomers were asked to identify themselves by raising their hands in this morning's session there was an audible gasp as the vast majority (I estimate over 70%) identified themselves as Boomers.  This represents a key niche inside the generational shift occurring in the workforce and can be either a opportunity or risk.  It appears to be a larger issue in FM than most professions (to the extent this morning's straw poll is accurate).

Value differences between young and old generations are behind different behaviors and expectations.  Gen X and Gen Y workers typically change jobs 7-9 times by age thirty-five.  When I was young that sort of history meant you were not dependable or incapable.  Today it does not necessarily mean either.  Whereas older generations "lived to work," younger generations "work to live."  That value difference alone helps motivate many of the behaviors that sometimes perplex older workers.  However, as readily as younger workers leave companies they rarely leave relationships.  This in part helps offset the tendency to migrate because the important social connection is retained, and it is that connection that will pay dividends down the road.  Relationship management is a key value and skill for younger workers and they are very intentional about it.

Working in a global market requires a cultural perspective.  Secretary Herman noted also the shifts in the workplace both domestically in the U.S. and globally.  She predicted that the U.S. would not have a shortage of jobs in the future (after a prolonged recovery from our current malaise), but that we will have a shortage of skilled workers.  This transition of our economy to a more educated and skilled workforce emphasizes the need for individuals to invest in a life long learning process.  Keeping up with advancing technology is only a part of it.

She also reminded us of the importance of FM aligning closely with business goals and initiatives, and remarked that major organizations cannot be successful today unless FM is at the leadership table.  Such is the leverage that the assets we manage represent; the ability to affect the enterprise on a broad scale based on our ability to align strategy and foresee future requirements, opportunities and risks.

Seeing ourselves as cultural bridges was a central theme in her remarks.  Whether it be generational shifts, jobs moving around the globe, or the transition of the workforce it comes down to the one word she described as being a most essential characteristic.  "You must be FLEXIBLE, or you will be irrelevant."

Like you I am sure, I have been challenged at different times throughout my life.  In those experiences I have learned that being flexible is a good thing, a very good thing, and never more so than now.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IFMA Foundation Gala Kicks Off WorldWorkplace

IFMA's annual conference and exposition kicks into high gear tonight with the Foundation Gala at the World of Coca Cola here in Atlanta.  The crowd will be mingling with friends from across the association, checking out the silent auction and enjoying the festivities.  Believe me, this is one great event.

The IFMA Foundation's focus on research enables advancement of the knowledge of our profession.  One of the high spots each year is the awarding of educational scholarships to deserving students, several of which .  These scholarships are funded by the gala, the Foundation's largest fundraising event of the year, and the contributions of individuals and chapters.

This year's Education Reception and Scholarship Presentation is set for 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the Omni Hotel.  See you there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

WorldWorkplace 2010

I will be blogging from Atlanta this week while attending IFMA's annual WorldWorkplace event.  Look here in the coming days for updates on educational sessions, interesting products and maybe even interesting people.    The IFMA Foundation Gala, opening reception and Friday night's Awards of Excellence are just a few of the events on tap this week, not to mention the product and services exposition.

My personal search for tools and information this year is focused on project management, learning more about sustainability strategies and systems, and investigating smart business continuity solutions from FM practitioners.

Hope to see you there.  Atlanta may never be the same.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Global Population Shifts and Growth

Global population changes over the next fifty years are projected to shift billions of people from the "developing countries" to the "developed countries" category. Think of what that means for the businesses we support, increased homogenization of economies and the demands that will be placed upon FM. Take a look at Hans Rosling's presentation. Known for his use of technology to illustrate statistical data, Hans has outdone himself this time. Informative, illuminating, challenging and dare I say it, entertaining.  Hans Rosling on global population growth | Video on

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Overview

GRI is an organic response to the sustainability dialogue in that it began as an informal network, is allied with other international programs, and is a continually evolving framework. Over time it has matured until it is now the pre-eminent guideline for reporting sustainability performance across a wide array of dimensions. It seeks to standardize reporting to enable accurate assessment of any participating organization. That said, it does not mandate performance, only a standard way of reporting. It recognizes that sustainability leadership must come from the top and that different types of organizations have different needs, interests, priorities and constraints.

This Reporting Guidelines Reference Sheet provides an excellent overview of profile and performance information which organizations submit, and can be used as a support tool to guide engagement discussion. If you do elect to report your sustainability performance using GRI guidelines you have the option to provide a copy of the report to GRI, register the report with GRI thereby allowing data to be included in the global database, and to ask GRI to check the self-rating score you have applied.

Allowing data to be shared via the global database increases the knowledge base of all practitioners and informs the continued development of sustainability.

In addition to overall reporting standards, GRI is on course to develop industry specific supplements. This will allow meaningful analysis and definition of best practices within an industry segment and offer particular value to those participants. Industry segment supplements are currently available for the Electric Utilities, Financial Services, Food Processing, Mining & Metals, and NGO segments. Supplements are currently under development for the Airport Operator, Construction and Real Estate, Event Organizer, Media, and Oil & Gas segments. Other segments are currently in the pilot stage.

In many ways GRI mimics the model used by the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE), drawing from operators around the globe to share openly. In OSCRE’s case the effort is to standardize information sharing and process flow within the real estate sector. In GRI’s case the goal is to provide a standardized rigor to reporting and ranking sustainability performance, thereby increasing the quality of information available and elevating performance. In both cases the model is voluntary, participatory and beneficial on a wide basis.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What Does Sustainability Really Mean?

Sustainability is moving along the maturity curve, becoming a mainstream and sometimes core issue for FM’s The problem with “sustainability,” however, is understanding what it really means and where it applies. Too many times the definition provided is limited, possibly in unintentional ways. For example, those who think in terms of development understand sustainability as an element of design and construction processes but seldom envision it past initial occupancy when the project team is largely gone. Operators think in terms of maintaining and optimizing the physical attributes and systems of a facility over its entire life cycle. Service providers and vendors consider the quality of products and services and their carbon footprint, as an example.

All these sustainability perspectives can be confusing and one needs to find a unifying element. And there is one, Facility Management.

FM has always been about people, place and process. These are our core concerns, virtually everything FM is about is encompassed in them. One can effectively argue that sustainability also falls neatly into these classic elements of FM.

People: Providing the people of the organization with good Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) is just the beginning. Amenities that support staff and the community also fall into this category.

Place: The site and building development process are obvious, as is the outfitting and maintaining of the facility over its life cycle. Workplace strategies, standards and policies can also enhance sustainability by lessening the amount of space needed and therefore minimizing the built environment’s impact.

Process: Every FM process from procurement of property and space, mail and food services, maintenance, work order management, conference support, office supplies, transportation and the host of others that FM’s lead have a direct bearing on not only the organization but also the environment. “Quality service” is no longer just about the business of the business, the business of sustainability is also a part of the quality dimension.

FM is where the intersection of the outside world and the inside world occurs. When we deliver quality processes that support the business of the organization we have an impact. When those same processes are optimized in how they affect the world around us then we have much greater impact.

Requiring Landlords to implement good sustainable practices in property management and renovations, requiring suppliers to be ISO 14001 certified, optimizing building operations to minimize energy consumption, implementing workplace strategies that allow work at a distance and reduce car trips are all sound practices. They support the business and lower the business’ impact on natural resources while enhancing the quality of life of employees and the community.

Sustainability. What does it mean? To a large degree it means “FM.”