I often write here about change; it’s a constant that we embrace and resist in almost equal measure and whilst we can’t turn the clocks back we do effectively do that by often re-inventing something. Read more…
The frequent topic of change caught up with me a bit last week when my reaction to a news item stirred me into starting to write something to post on one of my other blogs. Read more…
Continuing the theme of change, last week I wrote about how change is all around us all of the time and I described myself as a change junkie. I’ve been challenged on that, so want to explore my motivations a little more.
I am an enthusiast for change; I like new things, the way technology brings us opportunities to live and work differently and the possibilities to make our lives better. Advances in science and medicine take away some of the fears of illness and its consequences; as a child tales of polio, iron lungs and the like were the stuff of nightmares and it is good to know that many of these things have been pretty much eradicated from our lives. Read more…
Change is with us all of the time; before I finish the first draft of these words the sun will almost have set on Wiltshire as another day spins to a close. The world has moved on and tomorrow will bring another day.
We don’t all take kindly to change though, for it brings new things and takes away those that we are familiar and comfortable with. That new day tomorrow could bring all sorts of things; some will excite and delight us, some will challenge or scare us and we never quite k now what is around that next corner.
It is easy to see why we often have a natural resistance to change because most of us like the familiar and comfortable and it is only when we get bored with that that we want to change. Then we get that buzz of something exciting as we plan redecorating the room, moving house, buying a new car or whatever. These are changes that we enjoy.
Other change is less welcome, especially that which is forced upon us, but change will happen whether or not we like it and so we have to learn to deal with it. Life isn’t fair and never will be, no matter how much we try to make it so, because we know from the world around us that it is those that can adapt best to change that survive and thrive; seen a Pterodactyl around lately, or maybe a Dodo?
As the big 60 looms for me there are times when I feel I would be happier back in the 1960’s, but why? When I really think about it what was so attractive about that decade that took me from 8 to 17? It isn’t so much the comforts of not having responsibilities and carefree youth; no, it’s about how exiting those times were for someone of my age, and the reason for all that excitement was that there was so much changing all around me and within me. My fondness for those times comes from memories of all of that excitement and change.
Maybe that is why I became such an enthusiast for change, although I was in my forties before I realised that I was an incurable change junkie. But it was that I had become able to make change happen that cemented the package for gradually I had got into positions at work where I could do things and that was due to people working on me and putting their faith in me.
One of the standard things that we do when developing people is to take them out of their comfort zone. Done well that can be a powerful tool to help bring on the next generation of leaders and we need to have people who can embrace and thrive on change if we are to take business and society forward. I was lucky to find myself with people who helped me, saw that there was some spark, provided the fuel and fanned until the flame burst into life.
One of my projects is a procurement transformation where I am working in a team that includes people the same age of one of my grandchildren. It is a fantastic stimulus to be able to bounce ideas around and spark off each other because, even at my age, there is still so much to learn and do. The baton is passing on to new generations, but that is how it has to be, to quote a line from my own youth, The times they are a changin’. They always will.
I wrote a while back about the need for us to see more business acumen amongst the specialist disciplines like purchasing and facilities management, so I was delighted to read my fellow FM World columnist (and fellow consultant) Lionel Prodgers’ article last week talking along similar lines.
When I wrote about this last time my own thoughts on this topic had been prompted by a conversation I’d had with Steve Gladwin as we drove between site visits whilst judging in the BIFM awards. The general thrust was that, if we wanted to advance the FM profession into the boardroom, then FM people needed to understand that corporate jungle and its language.
Like many of my age group I came in to FM from other disciplines; I had an IT and purchasing/supply chain background and, although I had spent two and a half years as a buyer managing that end of M&E contracts, it was only later in life, as Operations Director running a large logistics operation, that I moved from FM customer to FM Provider. Even then it was a small part of my empire and it had only come to me because the Accommodation Team, as they were known, had managed to close down my goods inwards function with an ill thought through project. By the end of that month they had been transferred from Personnel to my team and we got on fine thereafter.
It was only when I merged that operation with another business and did away with my own job that I made the move to FM as a full time interest with a portfolio over more than 30 sites to manage. But I didn’t ever see myself as a facilities manager; more as a businessman who ran a facilities management organisation, and I think that this is a crucial difference in approach.
As a younger man I worked for some years in the wholesale trade where it was important to be able to supply the retail clients with things that they could easily sell on and make their profits from. That requirement to think past the next link in the supply chain to the next one beyond stood me in good stead in FM; what did my clients need to help them run their business? Indeed, to understand what their business was, how it was developing, what their objectives were and so on was a foundation of my approach. If I could understand what their issues were then I could help deliver FM solutions that much better and could contribute to the way that their strategies evolved.
As FM became established as a profession through the 1990s it came together with a wealth of talent from all sorts of backgrounds and it was this that, in many ways, enabled it to establish its own identity. Quite rightly we have tried to get to a point where FM is a profession of choice for younger people and BIFM have done sterling work in evolving a professional qualification framework to enable them to qualify through. These things take time to work through, but it is doing what it was intended to do in bringing people on.
This approach is something that I carry through today into helping people studying for their FM qualifications because, whilst they obviously need to understand FM, as they become more senior they need to become more business minded. When I qualified as a buyer I had to study marketing, accounting and law amongst other subjects to pass out, and it is this breadth that we need to develop in our FM people.