Everything’s linked… it’s just finding the links

I’ll never forget the lecture; it was the “Management,” module in the first year of my FM studies at the College of Estates Management.

The lecturer, as you’d expect on a post-grad course would make us “think.  No, not like most lecturers purport that they make their students think….. He really would make us “think”…..properly.  He would pose abstract statements and thoughts which made us think around and about the subject – Facilities MANAGEMENT.

I’ll give you an example…..he used to say….

Everything’s linked… it’s just finding the links

which is quite a bold statement to make!

However, when you stop and step off the treadmill that is Workplace2010 DOT org and begin to think about it, discovering the links for yourself, it is so true.

Moreover, it is such a great way of thinking about issues, subjects, addressing problems and of formulating a helicopter view to help bring ideas and strategy together thereby improving ways of working; finding true synergy and efficiency.

Let me give you a more specific example using Facilities Management.

Sustainability – True Sustainability is about looking at things as a whole, the whole life-cycle of products, people and places. Sustainability isn’t just about “Green Issues, Energy and Recycling.” A large part is, true – but for Sustainability to be properly ingrained in to an organisation, it has to be linked in with other functions such as HR and IT.

Why HR? Because in terms of recruitment and retention, the right people have to be recruited from the outset and retained for the longest time; making the organisation leaner, fitter and more sustainable.  Therefore being able to deploy valuable resources elsewhere. Wasted HR resource is poor sustainability, period

The I.T department of an organisation needs to be engaged by ensuring that equipment is future-proofed and doesn’t go out of date immediately following a six month long project install. They need to be sure that it is compatible and has the capacity to extend or integrate into other systems, thereby extending its life-cycle, reducing costs and improving sustainable performance. Wasted IT resource is poor sustainability, period

Another way of thinking about and exemplifying this is in connection with Project Management and its relationship with FM. I’m talking particularly here about construction. Typically, when are FM invited to the table in connection with a “new-build” property?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, almost always… too late. Anyone disagree?

FM needs to be represented at the initial meetings to establish scope and purpose. Everything flows from this… What use are Post Occupancy Evaluation surveys, if the building in which people are going in to is not aligned at the start to their needs? A project link into FM from the outset can cut off so many of these irritating niggles about building maintenance, cleaning, accessibility, security and safety.

Have we as FM a case here for the industry to start taking a lead and propose that non-core business units are all linked together to form a larger function which can be led by FM? A business function with the knowledge, skills and positioning to helicopter and take a proper strategic view of things, allowing it to establish the links which lead to improvements, efficiencies and sustainability, under the auspices of a Business Support Director?

Approaching work and strategy with that simple ‘nugget,’ at the back of your mind all the time certainly helps me to organise things in my own mind and focus more on the wider picture. Being aware of how the work that everyone else is doing fits together to make one whole is the only lens to view things through.

So simple, but so true.

2 Comments

  1. Lee, I like your case for FM taking the lead in creating the ‘links’. I also agree with your view that sustainability isn’t just about ‘green stuff’ – I’ve always said that sustainability applies to people too.

    Great blog – looking forward to reading more!
    Liz

  2. The reason we work with kids is to try and implement sustainable thinking from an early age. Kids have more influence on adults than anyone. My daughter recently helped at the local Transition Clitheroe meeting, handing out leaflets. Okay, so she’s got the ‘aahhhhh’ factor, but she also got people to read the leaflet rather than be brushed aside. There were quite a few ‘I didn’t know that’s”, and certainly, you only have to look at the impact her class has had on the local community and palm oil use.

    She’s only 7 and even she, in her own little way, understands that sustainability starts with attitude, not a wind turbine.

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