GRID Program

One month ago I published this blog post:

I was super-enthusiastic! A good evening debate at the RICS, where education and development of Facilities Management (FM) was the focus, and had triggered a sudden rush of activity. The blog describes how it all started, and who was involved.

I am still enthusiastic about the concept of developing Harvard-style case studies for our industry – we have to be! The industry needs case studies, desperately….we have very little substantive material to demonstrate how FM contributes to business performance. You can read about the progress of Project SOCS (Service Operations: Case Studies) here:

However, the project is starting to get into the usual ‘inertia treacle’ between the parties in an industry that sadly seems to know the cost of everything, and the value of nothing (a point made in our Raising The Bar report for RICS in November 2012). For so long now, FM companies have grown by going to customers with a “we can save you 10%” proposition….but 15 years ago, that worked. Now, customers have got used to asking FM to cut costs – they expect it.

Go on, just one more cut…it won’t kill the industry (will it?)

Yes, it will. Eventually. You cannot build a market sector that has no marketing other than cost-savings.

What is the FM industry? Perhaps it is currently a Project, not an industry sector. Perhaps it has been a 25-30 year project to rationalize property-related service provision in organisations, and make them lean and efficient. OK, it may have achieved that. So what next?

Does the industry want to sell value-based services to customers at a price that allows them to invest in good people, and grow profitability? It seems not. Or, in fact, it seems the industry just does not know how to do that.

Cinderella had better PR than Facilities Management does!

She must have done. Someone told the ‘customer’ what size her feet were….the rest is history (OK, myth). If that was Facilities Management, the customer would have been told, “Why not forget the glass slipper…we can supply you with these boots, at lower cost”. Not the point.

FM needs to start building a rich picture of all the many ways that FM contributes to business performance. It needs to build these ‘stories’ into solid case studies, that can be used by Business Schools to teach future executives about the business value of FM.

We are ready to source and write 20 case studies, into a 100 page book, by year end….help us to do that?

Someone always needs to stick their head above the parapet, and allow people to take ‘pot shots’. I have; and they will. But, we have a very strong team now confirmed:

Project Management: me + David Emanuel (MD,, Dr. Rob Harris (Ramidus Consulting) and my business partner, Dr Jim Ware (a former Harvard Business School professor and case study expert). More at this link:

UK Steering Group (formally confirmed so far):

  • Kath Fontana             Managing Director, BAM FM
  • Liz Kentish                  BIFM, Deputy Chair
  • Peter McLennan       Course Director, MSc FEM, University College London (UCL)
  • Deborah Rowland    Head of FM Policy & Strategy, Government Property Unit (Cabinet Office)
  • Stephen Shallcroft   Director, Corporate Real Estate, ARCADIS NV (inc. EC Harris LLP)
  • Gareth Tancred         BIFM, Chief Executive

And a clear target ‘check list’ for case studies:

What do we need from you? as soon as possible…..

What we really need now is funding. We can really help to change the FM industry, and start to move towards value-based business services, and away from simple cost-savings.

Service providers need to invest in this project, in our opinion. When we are successful in shifting the focus towards value, not cost-savings, then service providers will become more profitable. We all need the many service providers in our industry to be profitable, over the long-term, to make it possible to invest in people and performance.

Please invest today, and have your brand associated with this leading project; please contact David Emanuel:

And please join, and follow the progress of the SOCS project, on our LinkedIn Group:


Paul Carder writes:

Sometimes I hear a conversation, or read a tweet, and have to ‘fire some pixels’ at my screen! Maybe someone will read them out there in cyberspace….in (cyber)space nobody hears you scream…!!

Facilities Management is…  Quick answer: can sometimes be (a), should be (b)…and if you are at (c) it is probably due to the organisation and not its FM prowess. Why?

(a) Boring

Before I get a verbal beating from all my Facilities Management (FM) colleagues and friends, I’m not saying FM is “boring”….I am ‘in’ FM, so why would I say that? Boring can simply mean, you don’t want to hear about it; you ‘switch channels’.

So, with that clarification out the way….do you try to talk about FM with business leaders/managers? If you do, unless you are particularly attractive for some other reason (which, of course, some of you are), you’ll see that far-away gaze. Just think about the words leaving your mouth and entering the other party’s ear canal….facilities (last heard at reception: “sir, would you like to use the facilities? – they are just down the corridor, turn left…”). Or “cleaning” perhaps? Or “maintenance”…(starts thinking, I really need to get my boat out of the water and check the hull….eyes glaze….off into another world….”err, sorry…I was just daydreaming then…erm, could you say that again?” Lost….boring!

It’s not you, it’s me…. Not everyone is interested in the same things!

(b) Boarding

If your subject is not on the “Board” agenda (that’s the C-Suite my American friends)…you are just getting ‘on board’ with the Board. Or perhaps “boarding” that vessel that will take you there…to the place where you can talk to business leaders/managers without them drifting off.

If you are “boarding” then you have an invitation (or a ‘ticket to ride’ perhaps). You have said something to someone that has really made them think, and consider how what you said affects their business unit or responsibility.

You may have just started speaking a new language, wittingly or unwittingly – business language.

You may have hit a ‘hot button’ – it may be staff satisfaction, or difficulty with graduate recruitment, or achieving cross-functional collaboration, etc. It’s less likely to be cleaning, or maintenance, or even space planning. But all those things can be in the subconscious mind when considering ways to improve staff satisfaction, or making the workplace more attractive to potential employees.

(c) On [the] Board (or C-Suite)

Most FM leaders are ‘Boarding’ – on and off, as they momentarily attract the attention of senior business leaders, then get forgotten about!

If you are ‘on Board’ (or on ‘the’ Board/ C-Suite) you are in a small minority. If you made it there through FM, that minority is very small indeed. Most FM leaders in large corporate and government organisations are fortunate to get occasionally engaged with the Leadership Team, but do not expect to be ‘called up’ to join the Board.

We are very interested in what gets FM leaders to this level, and we investigated ‘what it means to be strategic’ at some length in our report for the RICS last year, Raising The Bar – enhancing the strategic role of Facilities Management.

My own view is that FM is part of a wider “Service Operations” requirement in most large organisations. You can read more about this, and our #SOCS “Service Operations Case Studies” project on it’s dedicated LinkedIn Group:

If you are ‘on Board’ it is likely that your ‘core business’ organisation has already recognised that FM has a strategic role – i.e., it makes a difference to the direction of the organisation. That may be due to its customer-facing role (e.g., in retail). Or, it may be due to an understanding that staff satisfaction is a key part of the value-chain to achieve higher business performance. If that is the case, we would especially like to hear from you – you probably have a leading case study for the #SOCS project. Is that you? if so please email:


Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, is widely reported to have said “a week is a long time in politics”. A minute must have seemed a long time for Sabine Lisicki yesterday afternoon in the ladies tennis final at Wimbledon – we felt her pain! For Occupiers Journal, so much has happened in 5 days! It has been a good week for collaboration…

CASE STUDIES – collaboration

Dr. Frank Duffy raised a point at an evening event (more below); we need Harvard-style case studies in our industry. I have heard Frank say this before, and I knew where he was coming from – the Harvard Business Review (HBR) publishes 4-page summaries. These are multi-disciplinary, but written from the viewpoint of one discipline, such as Operations Management or Service Management. The Harvard case-teaching method is more detailed, and used as the basis of business school teaching worldwide. It is a proven method of teaching managers.

Frankly (no pun intended), I just thought the time for talk is over – we must act now. The corporate real estate (property), workplace and facilities management (FM) discipline needs this multi-disciplinary case study approach. And my business partner, Dr. Jim Ware, is an experienced ex-Harvard professor! So, there has never been a better time to push this forward.

SERVICE OPERATIONS: deliberately crossing Operations with Service Management

There is a recognized opportunity for Operations Management to engage in the SERVICE arena and apply this long-established body of knowledge and skills to answer fundamental questions in the areas of service quality, productivity and efficiency, and to apply their expertise in business services and the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors.

Service Operations is a deliberate mash-up! It crosses over between the established fields of Operations Management (generally applied to production efficiency – but equally applicable perhaps to the operating of buildings and engineering systems) and the newer field of Service Management, where perhaps much of facilities management resides.

Project: SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is launched!

It is official – it has a LinkedIn Group:

SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is specifically focused on a vital part of Service Operations in any organisation – the buildings (real estate), workplace provision, and facilities management (FM) services. Our aim: to deliver case studies to demonstrate contribution to organisational performance.

When, where and how did this start?

On Monday evening, 1st July 2013, at the RICS in London, the third Facilities Management (FM) evening event was held, organised by John Anderson. I was on the panel discussion, which was expertly chaired by Christopher Hedley, and with the following great people (in no particular order): Liz Kentish (Deputy Chair of BIFM), Kath Fontana, Managing Director of BAM FM (and representing the RICS FM Professional Group), Dr. John Hinks (Global Head of Innovation, CRE&FM, Group Operations at Zurich), and Peter McLennan (Course Director, MSc in F&EM at UCL).

In the audience were many other representatives of FM industry bodies and leading commentators: Johnny Dunford (Global Commercial Director, RICS), Chris Hoar (Chief Executive, FM Association), Dave Wilson, the UK representative for IFMA Foundation, Geoff Prudence (Chair, CIBSE FM Group), Richard Byatt (Communications, Magenta; former Corporate & Public Affairs Director at BIFM), David Emanuel (Managing Director,, and Martin Read (Managing Editor, FM World).

The invited guests covered many of the leading FM clients (occupiers) and service providers from the UK and international market, and many leading consultants, from sole principle to global firms. It is fair to say that the gathering of 80 or so people was a representative cross-section of the UK FM industry.

SOCS: Terms of Reference

The next stage is to bring this project together. We have made a start, and many of the people listed above have already agreed to play a role in this project. In particular, RICS, BIFM and the FM Association are all ‘agreed in principle’. And all the panel (above) have also agreed to represent these bodies, and others, on a Steering Group, chaired by Dr. John Hinks as an independent client (end user).

The majority of our Regional Partners have also responded already, to say that they are very much behind SOCS and will communicate it within their global regions. This will connect us with ABRAFAC, SAFMA, MEFMA, FMA Australia and many others over time!

Further details

contact: Project Co-Director: Paul Carder: or +44(0)7970 406477

or Project Co-Director: Dr Rob Harris, Ramidus Consulting (Occupiers Journal – Regional Partner, UK & Ireland)


RICS backs global study by Occupiers Journal

by jimware on June 21, 2012

Dear Friends,

We are extremely pleased to report that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyrs  (RICS – is supporting our global study, “Raising The Bar – enhancing the strategic role of Facilities Management”. We have already had several hundred responses to our online survey, and we have conducted a few dozen one-to-one interviews with Heads of CRE and/or Facilities (see below for details).

The RICS support will now allow us to run several round-table discussions in key cities around the world, from late June into September.

PLEASE EMAIL ME TODAY at if you would like to attend a round-table meeting.

We are looking for the following people to attend:

  • Heads of CRE & Facilities (or similar) from client organisations (corporations or government)
  • CRE/FM internal ‘business partners’ in Finance, HR, IT, Procurement

Also, if you work alongside a CEO/ Managing Director of large service provider, providing CRE/FM multi-service delivery to your organisation, let us know if you believe they should also be involved in the debate. Especially, if they are potentially willing to host meetings/dinners in your city.

You will have already heard about our study, “Raising The Bar – enhancing the strategic role of Facilities Management” via this ‘OJ’ group. But you can read more on our website:

If you have not completed the online survey, it is still open – you may go direct to the survey here:

I look forward to hearing from you, and will also post further details over the forthcoming weeks.


Paul Carder
Founder / Managing Director

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… and receive a complimentary Executive Summary of our findings.

As part of OJL’s first GRID study, “Raising the Bar: Enhancing the Strategic Role of Facilities Management” we are conducting a brief online survey to help us understand how organizations (both private and public sector) are organizing, governing, and measuring the performance of the facilities function.

If you complete the survey in the next two weeks (before May 18) we will send you a free copy of the summary of our findings once the report is completed in June:

Please help advance the profession of facilities management by participating in the survey. We are addressing questions such as:

  • How is the facilities function organized? Where does it report in the organization?
  • How is the performance of the facilities team measured and evaluated?
  • Which facilities functions are performed in-house, which are outsourced?
  • How does your organization achieve strategic alignment between facilities and the business? Between facilities and peer functions such as finance, HR, and IT? What mechanisms are in place to accomplish such alignment?
  • How does the head of facilities balance demands between day-to-day operations and longer-term strategic activities?

Please invest 15 minutes today to complete this simple survey:

Thank you!

Please direct any questions or comments to Jim Ware, Global Research Director for OJL.


Is “Operational Strategy” an Oxymoron?

by jimware on April 9, 2012

By Jim Ware (with assistance from Paul Carder; also published as an article and blog post at The Future of Work…unlimited)

[Oxymoron (from the Greek ????????, “sharp dull”): a figure of speech that is self-contradictory. Common examples include “jumbo shrimp,” “living dead,” and “open secret.”]

(This is Part One of a two-part series on how facilities design and management affects business success.)

In my role as Global Research Director for Occupiers Journal Limited I am currently in the early stages of leading a research project focused on how large organizations structure and govern their facilities management activities.

We are exploring the current management practices, organizational structures, and performance metrics being used to ensure that workplaces and other facilities are meeting the needs of their occupants (for more detail about the project, see the overview of the GRID program on the Occupiers Journal Limited website, or send me a direct inquiry).

The study has given me an opportunity to explore the role that facilities management, or “FM,” plays in a broad range of organizations across several different industry sectors. To date the participants have all been U.S.-based companies, although most of them have global operations.

[Read more…]

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Hello World!

by jimware on February 19, 2012

Occupiers Journal is proud to be online, and in the process of developing our first FM-GRID programs. We are currently forming regional groups in the United Kingdom and the United States, with other regions around the world coming soon. If you want to explore becoming an FM-GRID sponsor, please contact us right away.