Changes in Higher Education demand new ways of teaching and learning. The learn/work environment will continue a transition from solely being a place of instruction to a place to construct knowledge. Being a social hub that is the physical manifestation of desired cultural and brand values, as well as a place of education.
The ecosystem of Bricks, Bytes and Behaviour as the agent of change. The way to get there, though, is one step at a time.
A Real Estate General Performance Survey® (Real Estate GPS) is an A3 Strategic Management Canvas or Accommodation Roadmap that helps in defining and navigating your own path and pace in this complex migration process of change, from current to future.
Besides a vision of the future of how to harmonize the 5P-goals (Profit, People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose) in the strategy tree of Corporate Social Responsibility, you need an Accommodation Roadmap to implement the value proposition.
This requires gathering insight into external threats and opportunities, (future) demands (need and nice to have’s), assessing the current learn/work environment (what do we have), defining (alternative) projects to close or mitigate the gap between current and the demand within the given priorities and constraints. Implementation requires also frequent monitoring, a willingness to change course as you find out more where it’s leading and pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
In the modular Strategic Management Canvas, all the pieces click together and reveal the greater picture with the underlying independencies and connections. It helps to understand the key business drivers and indicators that promote the value proposition of the organisation. It makes visible how a further integration of the disciplines Real Estate (RE), Facility Management (FM), Information Technology (IT) and Human Resources (HR) can improve the performance of the primary business considerably. For higher education institutions the primary business is providing (academic) education, conducting (fundamental) scientific research and translating this knowledge into relevant social applications (valorisation).
If the organisational scope/strategy is objectively measurably and comparable defined and translated into required learn/work environment performance, this unlocks opportunities, increases compliance and limits risks by using scenario analysis. The longer the operant time horizon, the better the considerations of solutions on impact, costs, risks and identifying possible side effects.
The Strategic Management Canvas is a viable model which evidences the value and impact on all stakeholders, not just shareholders as well as employees’ productivity, health and well-being. It brings existing fragmented and conflicting views of RE, FM, IT and HR to the table and enhances communication and mutual understanding about common organisational goals and a better user experience. The RE-GPS model improves clearer frontiers of responsibility and therefore proper interfaces between the above-mentioned disciplines. It provides a common language to address the different interests of all stakeholders.
The RE-GPS forms an Accommodation Roadmap that supports navigation during uncertain weather conditions and rapidly changing terrain. By addressing both the short and the long term in the whole ecosystem, the sense of urgency and the shared ownership becomes tangible for the involved disciplines and enables evidence-based improvements.
The learn/work environment is a tangible way shower to help people see the migration path and imagine a revolutionary alternative to the intangible organisational system that’s around them.
Accommodation is a catalyst for people’s performance and thus has a strategic impact. A holistic vision is important here, in which a conductor ensures that the various components of the learn/work environment are coordinated. In such a way that they are harmonized to optimally facilitate the most important capital of an organisation, the people.
Accommodation is a continuous process. It is therefore important to regularly question the users about their experiences and needs with regard to the learning/work environment and not just during an intervention.
A conductor regularly directs performance interviews (objective audits and subjective opinion surveys) with general and operational management, (non) teaching staff and students about the learn/work environment. This supports in leading the way of disruption due to internal and external change. E.g. the enhanced digital technology which allows us to learn and work at any place, any time on any device.
For suitable and inspiring accommodation, clarity is needed about the primary process and congruent instructions about what is required to contribute to the achievement of the organisational goals. The adages “If you can measure, you can manage” and “Measure what matters so we can achieve what matters” also apply to a learn/work environment. If you want to provide a tailor-made learn/work environment that keeps up with the dynamic accommodation needs, you must first take the measure.
Helping stakeholders in a timely manner to recognise accommodation consequences of developments in education and taking them into account in the decision-making, results in an up-to-date suitable learn/working environment.
The Accommodation Roadmap is an integral and advancing brief that elaborates the strategic objectives into requirements at the level of the physical, digital and social environment. The modular design makes it possible to select only the relevant components for a particular issue.
The Accommodation Roadmap is linked to the Real Estate Sixpack dashboard, which enables the measuring and monitoring of the performances achieved. The principle of continuous improvement, Plan, Do, Check, Act, forms the backbone of the Accommodation Roadmap.
“An integrated ecosystem approach of the physical, digital and social work environment forms a ‘power house’, you can literally transform your organisation with.” (René P.M. Stevens)
Our business model approach in the management canvas can be clearly illustrated by means of a tree. The mix of 5P goals (Profit, People, Planet, Prosperity and Purpose) that an organisation strives for is symbolized by the fruits that the tree must bear.
Through the roots, a tree gets its minerals and nutrients from the soil and through the sap flow, these are brought to the branches and leaves together with the sunlight and rainfall it makes the fruits grow.
In this metaphor, the roots represent the secondary processes Information Technology (ICT,) Corporate Real Estate Management (CREM), Facility Management (FM) Services and FM Resources. The sap stream represents the employees (Human Resources).
It is not only about the integral cooperation of CREM, FM and ICT, but also about the coordination with the working methods of the employees in the primary process. Without a sap stream, the balanced nutrients still do not reach their destination and, in the best case, a sub-optimal learn/work environment is created.
A Real Estate GPS is a feedback loop that creates clarity and helps navigate. It provides the RE, FM and IT departments with tools to allow their services to contribute integrally and visibly to the organisational goals.
It offers the Human Resources (HR) department the opportunity to play a greater role in shaping the social learn/work environment. By using also the physical and digital learn/work environment regarding privacy and concentration on the one hand, and communication and interaction on the other. Creating more influence on behaviour and culture change to support management decisions.
It helps to match brand experience with employee experience to attract and retain talented employees. It makes correlations between work environment, productivity, job satisfaction, engagement and absenteeism of employees transparent. Becoming an employer of choice, the new driver for talent.
A Value-Adding Management Model for efficiency improvement by reducing or increasing direct and indirect costs and benefits. The relationship between financial and non-financial targets is made explicit. The coherence of the most important modules of RE-GPS is also explained: the Strategic Alignment Matrix, the Real Estate Dupont Analysis and the Real Estate Norm methodology. The mentioned consultancy models are based on experiences from daily practice.
(Video is in Dutch)
For a learn/work environment to stay in sync with the organisational strategy we need a simplified version of reality. It is not good to have all the information in detail about the learn/work environment. What we need is to know the specifics of where certain things are that matter and indicate them with little flags on a map. The map is not reality but it works better.
A Real Estate GPS system facilitates navigation on the Strategic Accommodation Roadmap. It is a methodical way to periodically map out future frictions in the quantitative and qualitative accommodation situation based on organisational policy. This involves looking at the current accommodation (now), the future availability of it with unchanged policy (later) and the future needs (desired). A confrontation between these parameters provides insight into possible frictions with regard to target levels and gives direction to the necessary interventions to prevent or reduce the frictions. In this way, the learn/work environment remains aligned with the organisational strategy and current spearhead objectives.
In a rapidly changing economic environment, the organisational strategy is frequently subject to adjustment. This makes early navigation, instead of managing and controlling, increasingly important to keep in touch with developments.
A Strategic Accommodation Roadmap supports navigation between cost control and value creation. It provides robust and comprehensible measurement data to substantiate business cases, budget requests and the degree of being in control. As a result, the accommodation (Physical, Digital, Social) remains in every phase of its life cycle, dynamically and pro-actively aligned with the heartbeat of the organisation and its people. Accommodation as a ‘pacemaker’ that supports the organisation to continue to pulse in a normal and healthy rhythm.
The Strategic Accommodation Roadmap and RE-GPS help to approach the accommodation assignment integrally and to maintain a dialogue with each other in order to gain new insights with regard to the assignment, for example through changes in the primary process, technological possibilities or external developments offer. It supports the transformation of approaching the learn/work environment from mainly costs to also creating value for the organisation.
Understanding the complex interrelationship in the eco-system of the learn/work environment supports better decision making. Not only measurement information is required but you need also values to determine what an adequate learn/work environment is for your specific national and local context.
The Real Estate GPS provides a systematic operational framework that can be applied to all types of building projects and post-occupancy evaluations. It is a cyclical quality assurance system (based on ISO 41001) with which the performance of the learn/work environment can be tailored to the organisational strategy, continuously monitored, safeguarded and improved within the given policy frameworks.
The RE-GPS is about integrating the best of all the theoretical and experimental work of the past, all the way back to ancient cultures. In this approach, we see quality and quantity as two facets of the same coin.
The central question, “Is the accommodation adequate and in control?”, can be divided into five cyclical sub-questions:
- What is the strategy of the organisation and the vision of the required and desired performance of the accommodation?
- How does the organisation want to realize this strategy?
- How does the organisation measure the extent to which this strategy is being realized?
- How is the organisation working on improvement?
- Who is responsible for what and has what powers?
The two elementary analyzes (objective audits) for quality assurance are:
- 1) Fact analysis – Are we doing the right things? (Effective / efficient) and we are in control.
- 2) Potential analysis – Are we doing those things the right way? (Efficient / effective)
An additional third analysis is:
- 3) Satisfaction analysis (subjective opinion survey) – Are the users (employees, students) of the accommodation satisfied and motivated by the learn/work environment? (Engagement) How do they perceive the contribution of the environment to their productivity, study yield, safety, health and well-being?
Success is virtually assured when goals are formulated as concretely and objectively as possible, are prioritized and (improvement) plans are drawn up in such a way that there is no doubt about how the plan should be implemented. Indicating in advance how the performance of the learn/work environment is evaluated contributes to creating a feedback loop.
This transparent way of working prevents an ad hoc approach, in which goals and criteria are constantly shifting and it is not possible to determine afterwards whether the intended results have been achieved. It also makes periodic reassessment possible, so that the focus remains on the set (current) goals instead of just reporting on the past. It also helps in an exploration of the degree of future resilience.
The Real Estate GPS offers smart systematic data collection based on the eight constraints of a project: Scope, Time, Resources, Experience, Risk, Information, Cost, Quality (STRERICQ). This supports a periodic 360° feedback survey about the learn/work environment to unlock potential and formulate the risks, the control measures and the actions and measures. An approach that integrates many different angles into a more cohesive whole.
Making data SMARTI (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, Time-bound and Inspiring), in a language for non-professionals in the field of real estate, facility management and information technology, makes communication easier. Consequences for the learn/work environment due to changing ambition levels as a result of different insights about education and/or external developments can thus be mapped out, discussed and integrally weighed up earlier. It’s about using measures as feedback for ongoing business improvement.
Comparing multiple datasets reveals relationships that were previously hidden. This means that decision-making no longer has to be based on gut feeling and suspicions alone. There can be conversations that might not take place without these facts and data. It can then also serve for the governance of the real estate portfolio, consultation with internal users and external suppliers, as input for an accommodation section in the financial statements, substantiation of the annual budget and as a Human Capital instrument.
“Don’t measure to prove; measure to improve.”
On the basis of a nine-step plan, the accommodation is made (more) congruent with the organisational strategy. It creates perspectives from vision and strategy and links these to insights. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is integrated into the step-by-step plan for continuous improvement of processes based on objective measurements.
The RE-GPS model is helpful in identifying organisational developments and user questions with consequences for the learn/work environment in a timely manner. As Deming put it, “A price is meaningless without an adequate measure of quality”. Its simplicity also makes it accessible to non-facility/real estate experts.
You can have a lot of measurements but that in itself does not tell you what an adequate or desirable learn/work environment is. To make a judgement you not only need information but also values and priorities. An abundance of information gives the impression that decisions about the learn/work environment can solely be based on factual information.
What do we find important? Are we measuring what we are supposed to measure? Are we measuring what we value or valuing what we (can) measure? Indicators of quality are not the same as the definition of quality. Measuring data is unfortunately most of the time used as evidence instead of input for sound pragmatic and professional judgement.
The abundance of information also changes processes and practices of accountability. In a democratic society, accountability is a good idea. Public organisations should be open about what they do. But over the last decades accountability has shifted to a mainly technical managerial approach.
The measurement becomes an aim in itself. The whole orientation changes from being open to the public to being accountable to the inspectors and regulators in the system. It looks that with all this information about learn/work environment and how the organisation in it performs we have created a lot of transparency but in fact, it created a lot of mystification about what is really going on.
Ask the right questions in advance so that it is clear what measurement information is required to make well-informed decisions and what the possible (long-term) consequences are. In many cases, accommodation is a solidified (past) policy with a lifespan of at least 40 years, which is not that easy to liquify again.
Real Estate GPS helps answer questions such as:
- How do you coordinate with all stakeholders, in a transparent and proactive manner, the capacity and specifications of the accommodation with the organisational strategy (requirements/design / strategic accommodation roadmap)?
- How do you integrate real estate, facilities and IT assets into a coherent learn/work environment (cross-functional integration – the whole is more than the sum of its parts)?
- After delivery, how do you keep the accommodation aligned with the dynamic strategy so that it remains adequate for the primary process (periodic 360° feedback evaluation)?
- How do you involve the management team and the users in the coordination and the whole (requirements/design and evaluations) being future proof?
- What does a (periodic) evaluation of the created accommodation consist of to improve and safeguard specifications?
- How do you coordinate the management of accommodation risks with the organisation’s approach to risk management?
- How do you enrich the input for quarterly reports, the annual budget and the annual report with qualitative data, in addition to the quantitative data?
Control and manoeuvrability
Real Estate GPS provides control and manoeuvrability by periodically mapping the specific accommodation mix of Real Estate, Facilities and ICT in an integral outline within the context of your own strategic choices. (Strategic Alignment Matrix).
Quality Assurance System
It is part of the Quality Assurance System that periodically assesses critical decision points in terms of ambition level, the structure of processes and results.
Measuring objectively testable specifications
Improves communication, engagement, decision making and creates momentum by measuring objectively testable demand specifications and supply performance. (Six-pack dashboard).
Respond quickly to changes, not only the major but also the mid-course corrections of every day.
Proactive and dynamic alignment
Enables proactive and dynamic alignment of accommodation to organisational goals. (periodic 360° feedback evaluation).
Create and prioritize value for organisation and people
Tailor-made measurement standards
Measure a relevant demand, supply and match profile quickly and to the point with a limited (20-80 principle) number of tailor-made measurement standards. (Agile)
Benchmark with its own unique strategy and specific context
Test against own unique strategic principles and standards
Tests sustainability, health and well-being against its own unique strategic principles and standards instead of (only) against a market certificate.
Quick and easy insights
Quick and easy insight into how the performance of the learn/work environment relates to the strategic spot(s) on the horizon.
Peace of mind and overview
Brings peace of mind and overview to the process of making/keeping accommodation consistent with the organisational strategy (Real Estate Six-Pack dashboard).
See also the interview in the Dutch article ‘Creating added value with accommodation: a holistic method’ in F-Facts Magazine.