The role of the real estate/facility manager is a supportive one in many organizations. A role in which often existing assumptions are fulfilled and not in which these assumptions are established. In an accommodation project, however, this supporting role is not sufficient.
The real estate/facility manager must profile himself and be able to discuss organizational goals from operational to strategic level and translate these into learn/work environment consequences and back into relevant management information. To bridge the gap and achieve alignment at a strategic level instead of lagging behind the facts.
He must know the factors that determine whether the learn/work environment will work for the organization or not and thus help to decipher the code that leads to the desired (measurable) outcome in experience and performance.
This is unknown territory for many real estate/facility managers. A lot of clarity is created with the Real Estate Six-Pack Model©®. It provides the right tool to crack your own accommodation code to monitor, interpret an improve performance. The Six-Pack Model enables the real estate/facility manager to inventory the meaningful organizational data about strategic considerations and starting points of the primary process and organize them in a framework that communicates in business language, understandable for the management.
It helps to obtain consensus in advance with the management and employees about the desired level of ambition in order to formulate (for the layman) understandable, complete and consistent learn/work environment requirements. In this way involvement (informing, participation or co-creation) of management (executive board and faculties directors) as well as end-users (employees, students) can be created and decision-making about the learn/work environment becomes more clear and transparant.
Be aware that measuring stays a tool to support feedback-feedforward loops for continuous organizational performance improvements and not becomes the objective for exclusively accountability and blame. It is about measuring the results of the underlaying systems and processes, rather then teams and the people themselves. Don’t hold people accountable for what they can’t control. Although hard to change, the focus should be on safetyness, trust and learning not judging and control. This will ultimately create an organization with a high performance culture and more intrinsically engaged people.
The business management framework ensures that the desired ambition level is safeguarded and progress can be reported in the meantime. The real estate/ facility manager can also use it to manage the progressive insight of management and end-users. Support them with formulating what quantity and quality learn/work environment they need to support the (long-term) dynamic didactical process, the number of expected students and the employee and student satisfaction. By doing so being able to make the consequences for budget and planning clear in value cases so that management can make an informed decision.
In addition to hard accommodation criteria such as floor area, indoor climate, and occupancy costs, it is now also possible to monitor and map more refined characteristics, such as appearance, behaviour and experience. This enables addressing the main question: ‘Is the learn/work environment adequate and in control?’ by answering the following four sub-questions.
Information and data have become one of the most important organizational means to reduce environmental uncertainty and improve decision-making. Data-driven decision-making means that decisions are based on the analysis of the well thought through data instead of intuitive action. Data-Driven Performance Improvement is not only about gathering and integrating the right data but also about leadership and culture change.
The whole is elementary and should be primary focused on instead of solely on its parts. It’s about alignment of the underlaying supporting system and process parts with the organizational objectives to create continuous improvement in achieving the strategic goals. Thinking first about the outcome you want to create before you look for measures, is the only way to get the measures that give the evidence you need. The real reason for gathering any kind of measuring data and analyzing it, to make informed decisions about interventions for improvement.
The purpose of the Real Estate Six Pack dashboard is to monitor hard data (area, building, money) and soft data (users), in both a review and a preview. It not only focuses on the easily measurable hard results from the past, but communicates across the full spectrum of the accommodation/facility cycle, past, present and future. A data-driven approach needs a baseline measurement to draw up a roadmap to the desired situation based on that.
The dashboard is a representation of the most important performances of the integrated learn/work environment that can contribute to the organization’s broader strategy, objectives and optimize systems performance. They are inseparable from each other connected and influence each other structurally and directly.
Therefore leadership should involve and support their employees in contributing in the choice and defining of meaningful and understandable measures, the measuring, getting reliable integral system feedback data, knowing how to interpret it if an intervention is required and having autonomy to initiate improvement action. This is all part of the daily work in order to be able to self correct, collaborate and align better to the strategic objectives.
The dashboard gives a tailormade informative overview with a prioritization and explanation of the progress of the activities. A benchmark with own spearheads and policy objectives. It is specifically designed to see at a glance what is happening (in outline), in order to maintain an overview and insight. In a single image, it supports decision-making based on consolidated and ordered objective data. Not aimed at blaming, but on continuous growth, learning and improvement.
At the strategic level, global management information about trends is in general sufficient. At an operational level by definition more specific management information is required. The level of detail of the dashboard therefore differs per decision-making level.
Management by objective works – if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don’t.
(Peter F. Drucker)
The Real Estate Six Pack provides an outline for a geomancy stress test of human habitats. We are humans who live in habitats and those habitats profoundly shape what we think, how we feel, what we do, and how we communicate with each other.
As an organization, dare to think big, but start small. Without experimentation, innovation is impossible. Experiment and gradually find out which form and speed of implementation best suits the organization. Have faith in the process.
A lack of knowledge is a lack of power.
Constant feed-back feed-forward processing is what enables every system to thrive and be sustainable. Be it a biological body, an organization, an eco-system or the learn/ work environment. Planning weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings in which you shape new ideas to see if you are on the right track and adjust according to the big picture makes the learn/work environment eco-system ‘self-organizing’. A learning structure in which each point is learning from the whole, and in turn, the whole is informing each point. Making it a stable steady-state structure.
A systematic proces for measuring the learn/work environment’s performance, once the accommodation has been occupied for some time, provides feedback on how successful the environment is in supporting the occupying organization and addressing individual requirements of the people. Support in the fields of engagement (How does the learn/work environment affect me?) effectiveness (Can I work and study here effectively?), efficiency (Is the environment used efficiently?) and evidence (Is the environment manageable and in control?).
Understanding the complex interrelationship in the eco-system of the learn/work environment supports better decision making. When using the learn/work environment as a management tool, Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept of Why-How-What applies.
- WHY (purpose) – To know to which organizational goals and ambitions the learn/work environment should contribute and what the intended measurable effect/result should be.
- HOW (process) – To know which properties of a learn/work environment (location, floor area, functional/technical/esthetical quality) influence the intended effects.
- WHAT (result) – To archive collected meaningful information on learn/work environment performance in a standardized manner so that it is (timely and fully) accessible and transferable for operational, tactical and strategic application.
This improves communication, coordination, cooperation and promotes continuous learning and improvement from each other. It provides a more holistic approach towards eco-system effects of an integrated physical, digital and social learn/work environment. Focusing more on wholeness and process rather than on analyses and parts.
The Real Estate Six-Pack offers a unifying perspective using a feedback/feedforward loop of awareness and insights so that it becomes clear if you are getting closer to or further from the objectives. This reciprocal loop integrates strategy and operations into a supporting learn/work environment to add value. It supports post occupancy evaluation after completion of an intervention to ensure the building is performing as it should and can be fine-tuned in use.
The monitoring process via the ‘Six pack’ dashboard creates a context focused approach and has three consecutive steps: first, scanning the big picture to get an overview and then zooming in on important specifications that require attention to understand whether an intervention is necessary and why. If additional information is needed to make an intervention decision, there are links to supporting detail information.
“If you try to remove cheating by creating a cheat-proof measurement system, you waste a lot of time. If you remove the need to cheat, then cheating will be much likely to happen, and it won’t cost you anything.” (Dean R. Spitzer Ph.D.-Transforming Performance Measurement)
Monitoring performance gaps is context related, therefore it is a must that an organization designs its own meaningful performance measures. Know and understand your goals, and design the right measures that are the best evidence of your goals. Understand the results you are most needing to measure.
Maybe get inspiration from what others measure but certainly don’t copy them blindly. That’s because you want the right consistent and objective accommodation performance indicators (API), facility performance indicators (FPI) and ICT performance indicators (IPI) that will matter and fit your specific situation with unique goals and strategic direction the best. Adopting someone else’s performance indicators is adopting their strategy!
To determine the right performance indicators for results your specific organization is trying to improve, make sure that is clear Whose expectations, about What you want to meet, and Which expectations matter most?
‘The look in the rearview mirror’:
The dashboard consists of two sets of three main aspects each to monitor the APIs, FPIs and the IPIs. Each should be SMARTI. The first three aspects test the learn/work environment against the objective policy objectives and the subjective experience of the users. They answer the question: Is there friction between policy and the current situation?
- 1) Quality. 
- 2) Satisfaction.
- 3) Money/Time.
 Quality is understood to mean: geographical location, number of m2 and functional, aesthetic and technical performance of the accommodation. Quality and quantity are actually two facets of the same coin.
‘The view ahead through the windshield’:
In the knowledge that reality cannot be estimated as certainty. The remaining three meters 4, 5 and 6 enable dialog and extrapolation to the future of the desired goals by exploring scenarios for budgeting and policy adjustments. They answer the question: Is recalibration of the accommodation policy necessary?
- 4) DESTEP analysis of the external environment.
- 5) Corporate Accommodation policy.
- 6) Business Unit Accommodation needs provide a look ahead.
Part of a SWOT-analysis are the opportunities (O) and threats (T) that can influence an existing process from the outside. DESTEP is an analysis method to explore and map relevant external environmental developments (trends). The abbreviation stands for Demographic, Economic, Social/Cultural, Technological, Ecological and Political/Legal. Analyzing these factors provides a clear picture of the external environment in which an organization operates. This environmental analysis is primarily about national and international developments (macro environment).
“An holistic approach of the physical, digital and social work environment is a ‘power house’, you can literally transform your organization with an integrated learn/work environment.” (René P.M. Stevens)
These external developments cannot be influenced and are therefore a given for an organizational unit, but they do influence policy and must therefore be known in order to be able to anticipate. At a regional/local level, there may be deviations from these national trends – for one or more factors. A trend can be less pronounced or even contrary.
Periodically conducting an environment appraisal (user, area, building and money), with a 360° feed back assessment on matters that contribute to policy goals with their prioritization, is essential input to assess the degree of being in control with the learn/work environment and to fine tune. 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.
Periodically measuring user satisfaction helps to timely identify a mismatch between the learn/work environment and the current organizational process and to prioritize interventions based on the users’ perceived fit of their needs and abilities with the learn/work environment. It provides more customization and more attention to differences between organizational units. Measuring hard and soft data provides feedback and a sharper focus in addition to gut feelings, experiences or observations.
In addition to measuring the hard objective data (area, building, money), the soft data (user) on user satisfaction and behaviour is also relevant. It makes the users co-creators of their learn/work environment and creates support, ownership, involvement and pride.
The performance appraisal should be holistic in nature and consists of two parts: determining the objective quality of the learn/work environment using the Real Estate Norm method and measuring the subjective user experience through an online questionnaire and in-depth interviews.
Advantages of a more data-driven decision making:
- Gaining more insight and control.
- A more efficient decision-making process.
- A better understanding of problems and issues.
- Better solutions/decisions through an iterative process.
Employee satisfaction with the learn/work environment, the interplay of Real Estate (RE), Facilities (FM) and ICT, is the degree to which the combination meets their wishes and needs. To what extent does the physical (Bricks) and digital (Bytes) work environment support their work, well-being and health? However, it is also closely related to satisfaction with the social (Behavior) work environment and the work itself.
Beside the learn/work activities or tasks also the workers’ job characteristics and students’ learning styles, behavioual patterns, psychological needs and demographic characteristics influence the perceived fit of the learn/work environment.
The figure shows how the four Strategic Alignment Matrix frames give constraints for the Physical (bricks), Digital (bytes) and Social (behaviour) components of a learn/work environment.
The periodic Human Resources (HR) review pays attention to the performance of the employees, but little or no attention to the environment in which they have to perform. A questionnaire about the learn/work environment in combination with the periodic HR performance interview offers opportunities to attract, better facilitate and retain employees.