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  • Gavin Bates
  • 14 June 2013
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Time to Think

The name says it all – ThinkFM inspires us to think about FM – and there were many important questions asked and insightful answers given at this year’s conference that made sure that happened.

This was our second year working in association with the BIFM to deliver the conference and the old adage of being another year wiser certainly held true.

There was no doubt that this felt like the place to be and with a wonderful mix of people there was a great buzz in the air from the very start. This was heightened by the opening keynote, Jim Lawless, who set the precedent for the day, planting thoughts in the minds of everyone.

One of the first things he said was that FM doesn’t get the recognition it deserves and that all the hard work that is done by facilities managers and their teams goes unnoticed. This issue has been discussed within FM circles for some time now and reappeared throughout the day.

Jim had a message for us all though; that we have the energy, ability and opportunity now to move forward when crucial moments arise. That we can act boldly and write our own story. Our biggest risk, he said, is staying safe. Change doesn’t take long, it is deciding what to change and committing to that change that takes the time. What it takes is for us to be on the track, not watching from the side-lines; to be disciplined and never give up.

This opening message couldn’t have been more poignant for an industry in the midst of confirming its identity and pushing on into exciting new directions.

David Howorth, Director of Operations at MITIE Client Services, reinforced this idea of commitment and never giving up when he asked the question ‘are true partnerships possible?’ in his session. His emphatic answer was ‘yes’. He quoted ‘success is the journey, not the destination’, going on to say that partnerships are something that need to be constantly worked at. His shining example of a partnership that worked was Ant and Dec who both shared the same vision and worked as equals.

Rob Harris, Principal at Ramidus Consulting Limited, looked at the strategic challenge for FM, presenting it as a commoditised and fragmented industry yet still not a value-added function. His rallying cry was that work is changing and we, as an industry, must respond to that or be left behind.

Cathy Hayward’s (Director, Magenta Associates) session on social media threw up some interesting reasons as to why change is needed in the sector. One delegate posed the idea that our industry is naturally adversarial and defensive and therefore a turn off for young people coming into it, who by their nature and virtue of the fact they have grown up with social media, are more naturally collaborative, open and transparent. There is clearly a big opportunity for the sector here.

Peter Watts, Head of Environment at Workplace Law, and Martin Baxter, Executive Director of Policy at IEMA, revealed their joint ‘Smart Steps to Sustainable FM’ initiative by asking how companies will adapt to coming challenges, and how we can make sure all jobs are greener?

David Sharp, Managing Director at Workplace Law, and Bev Burgess, Director of Burgess B2B, both also discussed the emerging importance of sustainability, as well as that of wellbeing to organisations in their session on the ‘Intelligent FM client’.

Debra Ward, Managing Director of MITIE Client Services, also had some key messages to share at the end of the day as she encouraged us to create places of innovation and act in the space of greatness and possibility and work backwards. She reiterated some of the very points that had kicked off the day, by saying that if you are going to do something then it is either all in or all out.

So then, lots to think about and more importantly, lots to do. No doubt the landscape will look very different next year and we will have more to think about in the world of FM.