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Dean Kashiwagi, Professor and Director of the Performance Based Studies Research Group Arizona State University spoke recently at the NFMT Vegas Conference regarding utilizing innovation to transform the future of Facility Managers (FM).

Dean described how facility managers need to communicate with organizational leaders in terms of metrics using costs and time deviations.  Why?  It’s simple and dominant that everyone will understand. FMs need to utilize expertise to transform the facilities to meet changing requirements of the businesses worldwide.

He also explains that the future of FM is in creating value for their organizations, expanding the FM area of impact and utilizing expertise to minimize cost.

Dean discussed four learning objectives:

  1. Improve productivity with performance metrics
  2. Understand why FMs should be less technical and become leaders more
  3. Developing an alignment of resources, expertise, and company goals help FMs respond proactively
  4. Showing value to the company

Let’s take a deeper look into these topics.

Productivity and Performance Metrics

Performance metrics that are simple and easy to understand by all staff members are the foundation of success to increase productivity.

More often than not performance metrics are based on monetary targets. These targets may be meaningful to managers, but if they are not meaningful to the whole team productivity will suffer.

Performance metrics mirror the activities being done by the internal staff or vendor involved, so the tasks need to be executed correctly in order to stay on track.

Clear goals linked to easy to understand metrics improves performance in the workplace. This also coincides with FMs taking a less technical role and becoming a leader for their teams to instill change and growth in the workplace.

FMs take a Leadership Role

Facilities and services need to meet the changing requirements of businesses in order to keep up with the competition. Dr. Dean recommended FMs taking a more aggressive role in leadership and a more passive stance as a technical expert.

The reason being that accountability, efficiency, utilization and value of expertise must increase and the use of decision making, management, direction and control [MDC] and supply chain transactions that offer no value must be minimized. This will allow the vendor to use more of their expertise instead of forcing the FM to make decisions for them.

Also, this will allow the FM to be an administrator teaching younger FMs how to do the job correctly and keep these methods continuing down the pipeline for increased performance rather than being the only technical expert who knows how to complete tasks properly.

The impact on the FM will be an increase in value and capability, the utilization of expertise, the reduction of cost, and the creation of a transparent environment which minimizes the need to MDC., according to Professor Kashiwagi.

FMs roles are constantly changing and constant requirements are being put on FMs such as increased educational materials and a more detailed understanding of new technologies requiring the FM to be “smarter.”

These increased demands cause an increase in an overworked FM community causing companies to outsource work which isn’t always the best solution if not done properly. Outsourcing work must be a win-win that allows experts to use their expertise instead of being told what to do.

The vendor expert must bring their technical expertise to solve all issues and relay it to the FMs in terms of costs, time, and quality.  Dr. Dean describes the answer to this issue in the industry structure model. Every service/manufacturing industry can be segmented into quadrants by perceived competition and price.

These are the four quadrants Dean discusses and they are operated in two ways.

  1. In the low performance quadrant (price based), risk is minimized by management, director and control (MDC).
  2. In the high performance quadrant (value based), risk is minimized by utilizing expertise.

The goal is to use metrics as a language to minimize misunderstanding, decision making and non-transparency. When non-experts think more without a clear understanding, mistakes will be made more often. Simplification is the answer when it comes to visionary thinking, accountability, and innovative actions.

Reduce the risk of stress and confusion by creating a simple concept for non-experts to understand.

It is a “paradigm shift” is what Dr. Dean referred to as moving from a MDC approach to an expertise approach. Experts who have all the knowledge of the right technical moves and teaching them to non-experts in a way that’s easy to understand. Dr. Dean states it is a paradigm change for most FMs to not be the expert and know all the technical information, but by using utilize expertise makes it easier to do.

Checklists for the Win

An example of a simplistic way to transfer this knowledge could be through a checklist. A simple concept that non-experts can follow step by step reducing the risk of mistakes and still increasing productivity.

In Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto, he discusses the importance a simple checklist could make in several industries but focusing mostly on healthcare and aviation.

Industries and techniques evolve and humans are expected to adapt to that change. Learn more, understand more, and still expected to do it without error. We are human; everyone makes mistakes, but a checklist can reduce the risk of error by creating a few simple steps that anyone could follow and get right.

Two specific examples Atul shows that checklists helped dramatically were:

  1. John Hopkins took over the 5-point checklist that Atul created and used it in preparation towards inserting a central line which reduced 10-day line infection from 10% to 0.
  2. The Mayo Clinic adopted Atul’s 60-second checklist for routine examinations allowing patients to get treated quicker and more effectively without missing a step

Humans are literally not capable of remembering more than 5-9 items at one time, so eventually even with repetition, mistakes will happen. So, why not instill a little help with a checklist? A checklist that could then transfer a non-expert into an expert.