business performance

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)