Monday, December 20, 2010


The Future of FM Is Up to Us
The realities of today naturally influence our vision for tomorrow and ability to attain it.  Although often painful at the moment these realities are guiding us toward a reshaped future that will be more efficient, which will demand and reward creative solutions, and which requires each of us to accept responsibility for our share of the outcome.  We have an opportunity to leverage the conditions as they now exist and dictate what we will make of them, and that is what we are in the process of doing on a daily basis.

FM’s often complain about not being heard and thus having to be in reactive mode most of the time.  When I hear these comments I often wonder how much FM is pushing the issue and how much we are to blame ourselves for being “comfortable” with the status quo.  Just as in any other area of life, if we do not like the current reality then we must accept our role in changing it.  Let’s not fall into the category described by the famous philosopher Pogo when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us."

Fine, you say.  How do we do that?  How do we assume our role, accept accountability and move the FM agenda and profession forward?

We start by being the best we can be, by challenging ourselves more than others do, and by being thought leaders inside our organizations. 

We start by refusing to accept the status quo in ourselves. 

My challenge to each of you for 2011 is this:

  • Demand more of yourself than you do of others
  • Demand more of your staff than you have
  • Learn what your CEO’s top three concerns are and address them directly
  • Create solutions that inspire and amaze
  • Lead by example with integrity and purpose
  • Give yourself away by mentoring others
  • Make the commitment first, then figure out how to accomplish it. 

Congratulations on a successful year and enjoy the holiday season with those you love.  It is a special time of year; make sure you enjoy it and capture its memories.  I will be back in January with new FM musings.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Technology Must Support Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Coming out of the financial downturn companies will capitalize technologies that directly affect core FM concerns; improving space efficiency, reducing energy costs, reducing the cost and time to build, and increasing productivity.

Previous posts discussed the increasing frequency and importance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) in the capital projects arena.  The efficiencies and gains derived from implementing BIM and IPD on new projects should not be under estimated.  New projects, however, represent a very small fraction of the built environment.  The existing built environment represents a much larger opportunity and risk. 

For those not building new facilities the emphasis is clearly on increasing utilization and efficiency of existing assets.  Many CEO’s are challenging unit heads and FM to increase headcount and revenue within the existing physical footprint and with limited re-capitalization.  This is driving renewed emphasis on Alternative Workplace Strategies (AWS) while prioritizing the smart use of technologies that increase productivity and collaboration.

It is important that significant changes required by these initiatives be properly socialized within the organization to assure alignment with corporate goals and culture, and to speed acceptance.  It is likely that policy changes will be required, that fact alone elevating the discussion.  Recent conversations with peers across the profession make it clear that many are dealing with these issues.  For example, underutilized office space represents an asset that can be redeployed to increase collaboration, but such changes cannot be made unilaterally.  It is likely that space entitlement policies and even key personalities are involved and must be accommodated or changed through a studied process that discovers, informs and advises decision makers.  Only then can the right policies, projects and protocols be put in place.

Executing the project successfully, however, is just the beginning. Technology systems will be expected to collect and dashboard data, making understanding of collaboration and productivity metrics readily available.

This last is a key change for most FM’s.  We are used to and comfortable with measuring space and reporting its efficiency and utilization in terms of area, headcount, units produced and revenue.  Some of us even measure collaboration and the tools for both empowering it and measuring it are now beyond the infancy stage.  Most FM’s, however, will simply stare at you when you ask them how their FM metrics measure productivity across the entire organization.  For many of us that will be the next frontier.  We are, after all, in the business of supporting business.  Everything we do is pointed toward helping our organizations be more efficient and productive but most of us have been measuring only one of those domains.

Productivity SLA’s and metrics are the other half and they are waiting for your attention.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Sustainability Is Moving Along the Maturity Curve
Sustainability is maturing beyond the “new build” emphasis that characterized it not so long ago.  Today, the emphasis is on developing corporate sustainability policies and protocols to improve behavior and outcomes while working to strengthen new build rating systems and credentials.
The growing interest and effort behind developing net zero buildings is placing a premium on the integration of design and operation, and recognizes that a building’s affect on the environment continues over its entire life span, the sum of the whole being several factors greater than first environmental cost.  Key strategies in this maturation include green leasing, supply chain accountability, making data transparent and possibly a bit of social engineering.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) continues to evolve but is only one example of maturing sustainability regimens.  In August of this year the UK Green Building Council published the results of its latest review with members as it gears up for a GRI update in 2011.  The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program continues to refine its credentials and provide market-niche specific certifications.  In whole, these and similar transitions in other protocols indicate a continuing trend toward knowledge specialization with the goal of driving sustainability consciousness deeper into the built environment psyche.

An interesting evolution to watch is the increasing use and effect of visible building performance data.  Important to operators because visibility makes operating efficiency transparent, and therefore important to them personally as well as organizationally, it also has the potential to broaden its reach.  Buildings with good sustainability resumes command higher rents.  As technology makes information more visible, however, it will not only be owners and operators who see it.  Occupants will be able to compare energy performance of other occupants in the building.  This visibility has some peer pressure potential and most certainly will encourage lessees to include occupant energy profiles on their lease shopping list.