As you get older, and you can look back at a career where you helped not only many organisations, but especially professionals and managers in finding answers to all sorts of problems, you develop a strong sense of what works, and what doesn’t. And then I’m not talking about the solutions for issues that strongly depend on time and place. There is a big difference between devising solutions in an economic recession or in a booming economy, and the client organisation’s market position also plays a role.
I’m talking about the process of forming a strategy for a facility organisation. For some this is just a recurring required routine, others feel it provides a welcome guideline, but one that is hard to put together. With your stakeholders, with your team, and yourself. But nothing is so helpful when it’s actually there, everybody supports it, and you can test most problems against your plan. ‘Why do we do the thing we do and how do we fit this challenge or occurrence in what we really want and/or should be doing?’
Over 25 years I’ve seen the most successful facility managers and directors always walk around with a sheet of paper, nowadays a slide on an iPad, with an neat looking summary of the mission, vision and objectives and a handy outline of the change process. When I was younger, I wondered if this related to making your presence felt, or if it really added value. Nothing changes as fast as the world around us, and what holds true today may be obsolete tomorrow.
Now that I can take stock of things I can safely say that the strength of communication in your role of facility professional makes the difference. And the very reason for this is that the world is changing so fast, and that you must manage your surroundings every day to make clear how you can help them overcome their challenges. How do we contribute to the organisation’s success, a hospitable environment, attractive employment, a productive work culture, flexibility, or simply cost reductions? And what does this imply for the choices we have to make together? In your role of facility professional it is essential to keep communicating and keep the lines open to safeguard the organisation’s main objectives, but also to adjust your approach where needed.
But the way of formulating the facility strategy has changed. Our field of expertise has developed rapidly – we have a lot of information in our organisations and the knowledge of our staff has grown extremely fast, also thanks to the facility study programmes in the Netherlands. As a result, we can formulate a strategy in no time. No more endless sessions with heaps of documents and spreadsheets, but an inspiring process where we quickly come to the core together. ‘What does our organisation stand for, how can we contribute to that and what does that mean for us, and what can your team realise?
Teams only become really motivated when they know what is expected from them, and if they feel that they are capable of living up to that. You achieve this when you go through the process together, share the challenges and realise ownership at the lowest possible level in the organisation. And don’t just do this with your own team, but eventually also with your suppliers. Only then life gets just that much easier because everybody understands or is in the position to understand what is to be achieved.
But is it really easy? If we would follow the ‘canvassers’, it all fits on a single sheet for you to take on the road. A playful and especially to-the-point outline of the entire strategy. In view of the great diversity of facility management and the many practical requirements of our stakeholders, this is probably too big a challenge, but the essence of the canvassing method remains true: keep it simple!
I kindly invite you to take part in our training course ‘Sharp facility strategy‘, where we look at the current challenges and solutions together and help you with convenient tools, best practices and a case for the preparation of a clear and convincing facility strategy. It helps!