The think local; act personal paradox

Earth Sustainability

With the double – dip recession well and truly under way, biting us again, where it shouldn’t, I’d say we’re currently on the ‘U’ of ‘B’ ‘U’ ‘S’ ‘T’ along this cyclical journey. You could be forgiven therefore for reasonably asking…

a) When do we get to ‘Pass Go,’ and collect our £200 for doing so? …Seeing improvements in World Economic conditions


b) ‘Why,’ does it have to be cyclical?

I don’t know when. Of course I don’t know and I don’t profess to know. What I do think about this whole episode and what we can do to help ourselves however is detailed below. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion aren’t they? Or so the saying goes.

Austerity, you can argue, has served its part. Is it, however, now time for local stimulation and investment to create Sustainable Economic Growth?

Moreover, what is  ‘Sustainable Growth?’ and how do you define it…

It’s one of those phrases that often just ticks the box and suggests to us that we’re talking again about ‘Green issues’ ‘ The Economy’ ‘Sustainability’ and other ‘Long term’ improvements over time; ‘talking,’ being the operative word. Just talking about it and not doing an awful lot by way of actioning policies, laws, procedures and actions that, “will enable things to continue and improve over time.”

That’s where Sustainability comes into it…

But how do we actually achieve it and what is our part in achieving it? Suffice as to say that no one has the answer, but one thing is for sure; if we don’t make the necessary changes now, we will be back on the same economic cycle characterised by the #BOOM and #BUST periods which we have all become too accustomed with.

A change in policy towards more Fiscal stimulation is what’s required at the moment. We’ve had our fill of Austerity. This, however, doesn’t guarantee sustained growth on its own; in order to put an end to #BoomBust,

it has to be coupled

with a think local;act personal mentality, where everyone is given the help and support to make a difference and add value.

Those who have read some of my earlier posts will be familiar with the phrase, “Everything’s Linked,” … and I like nothing better than illustrating this with reference to Sustainability – it’s always an excellent example of it in practice and about taking a holistic thinking approach.

The World has shrunk due to improved communications, the success and development of the internet and improved infrastructures… yada yada yada….

Suffice as to say that I recently heard that scientists are working on a shuttle that will be able to travel to Australia within five hours in twenty years time. Whilst in some ways of course this will improve lives and lead to Growth and increased profits being posted for those companies who have been astute enough to capitalise on it. What happens if these large Companies, Individuals and Banks that support this investment go Bump? ……. Don’t answer that one I think we all know!

We therefore need a shift in the balance between International trade and production at Home. Local investment; we’ve heard it all before, investment in small and medium enterprise firms. (Banks lending to SME’s) and supporting people who want to run their own small business and earn an honest living.

Using local produce does help the local economy, it requires less energy,
packaging, preservation and transport and enables those in other communities to
look to meeting their own needs with their own resources. It’s therefore by default Greener and more Sustainable.

In his document ‘Small is Beautiful Big is Subsidised’, ISEC’s US programmes director Stephen Gorelick, argues that the efficiencies of scale, at the heart of global trade, are a fallacy. Governments are encouraging growth at every level. This is costing people their jobs, and breaks down the community fabric that depends on healthy local economies; they are eroding democracy and widening the gap between rich and poor and irreparably damaging ecosystems and human health across the planet.

These are the exact same #Toxins which cause the BoomBust cycle

What money is left in communities is soon sucked out. Studies indicate that of the money spent in a typical McDonald’s, nearly 75 per cent leaves the local economy, says Steven Gorelick. Furthermore, Asda’s new owner, the US based Wal-Mart, has been found to destroy three jobs for every two it creates. Economist David Korten likens global capitalism in a healthy economy to cancer in a healthy body. “Curing the capitalist cancer to restore democracy, the market and our human rights and freedoms will require virtually eliminating the institution of the limited-liability for-profit public corporation”, are his words.

We need a shift in direction towards localising economic activity to strike a balance between international trade and production at home. A localised infrastructure which is supported and encouraged, not penalised and forgotten about and one which has people and sustainability at its heart. A personal approach where people are treated as people and greed is definitely not good.

Local vs. Personal

The old adage – thinking globally, acting locally does not touch upon the essence of human behavior—what we do or don’t do in response to change, or to challenge the status quo. Acting personal, however, mirrors human dynamics and the multi-dimensional profile of each individual. Act personal allows you to engineer communities, making messages and actions a relevant and timely response to the big picture needs of people.

Deloittes aim to act personal in their social media communications every day when addressing the individual concerns and aspirations of their stakeholders. Talking to them about what they really care about—drives the engagement to boost client and employee satisfaction, retention, profits, and multi-stakeholder advocacy. It has the capacity to not just act, but to deliver “happiness” with each experience. This is where the personable approach fits in. If people are happy they are motivated and work well. Productivity increases and businesses have more chance of continuing and growing in a sustainable way. Not least because people need to be sustainable too and are more likely to stay on the payroll. These are the common sense and easily created links.

So, where does FM fit into all this?

We are often the key link between organisations and their major supply chains. A highly trained and long serving FM, who has been invested in by their company and who therefore has the knowledge and experience of procuring local contracts and engaging local suppliers and contractors can help effect this in their local Economy.

If we can encompass and nurture this change and approach, then not only do we benefit from a Greener and Sustainable World, we also have more chance of arresting the Boom and Bust cycles; a bi-product of our current Capitalist regime.

Green buildings need responsible Green people. They can’t be green without the behaviour of their occupants matching this ideal. We need to therefore make it easy for them to control their local environments to help get their buy-in which in time will lead to greener performance. (One small example is turning temperatures and lighting down in areas where there’s no one working.)

FM has a key role to play in this life cycle, from building planning, construction, operation and disposal. This responsible approach to Facilities Management where the right thing is done not only for the business/organisation; it is also done for the Economy and World as a whole.

If the Government ever come knocking on my door asking for examples on how FM can add value to UKplc and the Economy, I have my answers ready which, amongst other things, highlight our key role in supporting the Sustainability agenda through local engagement and procurement. What are we waiting for…

How can we make this Sexy though? How can we make Green issues and Sustainability Sexy to people?

We can start by connecting with people by thinking local and acting personal. Investing in people to fulfill their potential and giving them the support and opportunities to grow personally. We need to become experts of engagement and learn the rules of engagement. Treating people like human beings rather than just a number and watching them grow – the rest will follow.

If ever there has been a time requiring us to go back to basics it wasn’t in John Major’s political era, it’s NOW… 

Lest we forget…

We can’t see the Wood for the Trees…


  1. Excellent blog, Lee. I like holistic thinking as you know! Control over heating,lighting, aircon etc is a vital part of FM adding value to a business by efficent cost control. One possible way of doing this is by integrating systems. this is something we advocate. As security Consutlants we like to help business maximise the bang they get for their buck when they pay out for security systems and show them how to use them for other things that will add value to a business and help the FM run a building smoothly.
    Totally agree on the ability of good FM to make a positive difference to people’s lives. Mind you, I have often said that good FM sometimes doesn’t get noticed…because it is good!

  2. Thanks Ellie… people have got to start engaging and turning to the smaller companies in the first place. They are often more responsive and customer centric and flexible in their approach. Big is not always better as smaller, more flexible companies can prove added value to organisations much more easily and hone in on what really is important to the customer and tailor their service accordingly. Listening as a skill is under rated and under utilised. Lee

    PS – Agree totally; good FM is not noticed because it’s good, but if the ‘wheel falls off,’ you can bet it would be noticed. We need a 180 degree turn around on this.

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