Changes in Higher Education demand new ways of teaching and learning. The learn/work environment will therefore undergo a transition from solely being a place of instruction to a place to construct knowledge. Becoming a social hub that is the physical manifestation of desired cultural and brand values, as well as a place of education.
The organisational strategy should describe goals and priorities and how resources will be mobilized to get from the current reality to the desired outcome.
The ecosystem of Bricks, Bytes and Behaviour is an agent of change. The way to get there, though, is one step at a time.
“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)
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.
Our business model approach in the management canvas can be clearly illustrated by means of a tree, a living organism. Emphasizing the organic and functional relationships between the parts and the whole.
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.
Managers are the branches to support the growth of the fruits. The management board is the trunk as central support. Corporate resources flow up from the roots to management and up to the employees who take care of growing the fruits.
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 collaboration of CREM, FM and ICT, but also about the coordination with the working methods of the employees in the primary process. Form/organisation should follow function. 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. Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) aspects. Becoming an employer of choice, the new driver for talent.
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 the ever-changing complex ecosystem of the physical, digital and social environment. It provides a solid framework for policymakers to determine what value the accommodation should create for the primary business process and how to implement it. It also gives a framework to coordinate the interests of the different stakeholders.
The Accommodation Roadmap is a kind of bespoke user’s guide making navigating easier with practical steps for implementing a new holistic organisational model. Unifying the fragmented and scattered information and bringing it back into context so that the bigger picture is visible. It maps the hidden connections between the different sub-environments. Working with all of them and exploring how the different topics relate together can save a tremendous amount of time because the information is presented in a very clear concise form.
It is the board/management that initiates the value proposition and strategy (Scope) based on the mission and vision. 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 adaptable Accommodation Roadmap to implement the value proposition. This roadmap will be documented in a Strategic Asset Management Plan also called Strategic Accommodation Plan or Integrated Accommodation Plan. For a larger portfolio of buildings, an asset management plan is drawn up for each building.
Accommodation management should be treated as a continuous process instead of a separate project. Using feedback (Evidence) from continuous evaluation leads to better-informed decision-making and ultimately, to a more Effective and Efficient learn/work environment which boosts the Engagement of its users.
This requires gathering insight into external threats and opportunities, (future) demands (need to have and nice to have), 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 about where it’s leading and paying attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
The RE-GPS forms an Accommodation Roadmap that supports navigation during uncertain weather conditions and rapidly changing terrain. By addressing, mapping, assessing and evaluating both the short and the long term in the whole ecosystem, the sense of urgency and shared ownership becomes tangible for the involved disciplines. It serves as a decision-support guideline that enables evidence-based improvements, adjusting strategy and policy. And can adapt as you gain greater certainty over time, based on data and evidence.
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. But it requires putting first the organisation’s ‘operating system’, policies and resources in place that are needed to make the desired migration successful.
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 because the user needs are dynamic. 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, the WHY of change and congruent instructions about WHAT is required to contribute to the achievement of the organisational goals. Change is easier when you know where you are, where you’re going and what the required speed is.
‘Position in space and momentum through space are complementary pairs. Where am I now and where am I going? If you know exactly where you are right now then you won’t have total clarity on where you are going. That is because in order to know your exact position you must be standing still. If you are standing still you have several options from where you can go from here.’
‘The flip side of this is that if you know your precise momentum of where you are going and how fast, you are not able to know exactly where you are. Because you are moving and your position keeps changing. It is good to have momentum but it is also good to stop and be here now.’
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 cornerstone of the Accommodation Roadmap.
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. The trick is to test, learn and iterate in an agile way.
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 learn/work environment (Physical, Digital, Social) remains in every phase of its life cycle, dynamically and proactively 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 offered. 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 Facility Management) with which the performance of the learn/work environment (based on ISO 55000 Asset management) can be tailored to the organisational strategy, continuously monitored, safeguarded and improved within the given internal policy frameworks and external risks and opportunities.
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 RE-GPS supports the creation of your tailor-made asset management strategy which determines value aspects for your accommodation and gives direction to the consolidation/maintenance, investment or disinvestment of it. It focuses on the quality/performance of the accommodation for the organisational primary process and user satisfaction, health and well-being. As well as on cost control and optimization plus the interests of all stakeholders and their environmental ambitions.
The central question, “Is the accommodation adequate and in control?”, can be divided into five cyclical organisational 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?
A third additional analysis is:
- 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 strategic goals (Scope) are formulated as concretely and objectively as possible (SMARTI), 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. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are based on the eight constraints of a project: Scope, Time, Resources, Experience, Risk, Information, Cost, and 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.
STRERICQ the 8 constraints of a project
- SCOPE/STRATEGY: What exactly is the desired outcome (how good and how many, where, when and how often)? (Value aspects)
- TIME: By when, and for how long, should the outcome be delivered?
- RISK: What can go wrong, and what can be done about it?
- EXPERIENCE: How satisfied should the users be? How close matches the outcome for people’s engagement? Are we able (and willing) to deliver the employee’s needs?
- RESOURCES: Who and What is Where required to do the work? (people and materials)
- INFORMATION: What are the relevant measurements to report for informed decision-making?
- COST: How much money is available to achieve the outcome? Price is what you pay, value is what you get.
- QUALITY: How closely does the outcome of the objectives and expectations match the Scope/Strategy? (Fit for purpose)
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or performance indicators, in general, must be convertible into actions. For each KPI, ask the question ‘what do we do with it in practice’. If you don’t have a concrete answer to this, it’s not a useful KPI. In practice, we see many KPIs that are not used but are processed in a dashboard and maintained. Focus on services and policy objectives, not on producing figures. And always link the KPIs to the relevant department or team that can influence them.
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, information technology and human resources, 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 at the strategic, tactical and operational levels. So that a connection is made with the accommodation objectives on the strategic level for the concrete realization at the operational level. It describes the process of achieving the organisational goals and core values of asset management strategy for the short and long term.
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 align the capacity and specifications of the learn/work environment with the organisational strategy in a transparent and proactive manner to communicate with the stakeholders?
- How do you integrate Real Estate, Facility Management and Information Technology assets into a coherent learn/work environment (cross-functional integration – the whole is more than the sum of its parts)?
- How do you keep, after delivery, the accommodation aligned with the dynamic strategy, so that it remains adequate (periodic 360° feedback evaluation)?
- How do you involve the management team and the users in the coordination and future-proofing of the whole (brief /design and evaluations)?
- What does a (periodic) evaluation of the learn/work environment consist of to improve and secure performance?
- How do you align accommodation risk management 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?
The answers to the above 7 questions give insight into where is it in line with policy and strategy and where are there substantial deviations. How bad are the deviations and what can go wrong as a result (risks)? Is adjustment necessary/desired? What does it yield and what does it cost in terms of effort/money?
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.