You can compare the function of the learn/work environment with a pace-maker to assist the heartbeat of the higher education institution to pulse. It is not the real thing but it helps to keep it alive and brings it back in its normal rhythm.
In modern management literature, you see a combination of hard and soft performance aspects. The hard side (quantitative data) is mainly expressed in the focus on effectiveness, efficiency, and manageability & control, while the soft side (qualitative appreciative inquiry data) emphasizes attention to the motivation and synergy of people. Both sides should be balanced.
The balance differs per organisation and also changes as you go through the organisational lifecycle. Monitoring performance that is based not exclusively on quantitative measurement, but embracing also the qualitative.
In general, there seems to be a limited strategic understanding of the potential added value of the learn/work environment. Instead, it is perceived as just a necessity, a financial and risky burden. This reveals the lack of focus or concern with the primary function of adding value. Organisations should want to know how to optimise their productivity, in terms of the economic performance of their building over time, as well as the everyday performance of their employees.
To avoid operational headaches there is a tendency to over-control through monitoring and measurements of every kind. But take into consideration Albert Einstein’s words:
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
Management often has a feeling that they have no control over the accommodation. Where does this feeling come from? Is there too little measurement or are the wrong things being measured?
Does gaining control mean more measuring or is it mainly about identifying the relevant accommodation matters that add value to the organisational goals and student’s behaviour and preference? What should it contribute to? What do we want to achieve? How can we achieve that? How can we manage risks? How is the learn/work environment perceived by the users?
Striving to achieve optimal (over mediocre) added value is a highly effective prevention strategy. Aspiring for optimal added value is an effective approach to generating real-time, concurrent benefits to the organisation, individuals and society. For that, it is important to balance the heart and the head when setting realistic and achievable targets. How people feel about setting, pursuing and achieving targets has a huge bearing on how well targets can lead to performance improvement.
“There is a hidden coherence in everything that seems incoherent.” (David R. Hawkins)
To engage people, describe targets to speak to the head using performance measure + target value + timeframe but make sure you also have a sensory-rich description of why reaching that target matters and that it is achievable. For the buy-in of the people invite them to be active participants in designing the target setting.
A quality assurance system is not only necessary for the primary educational process, but also for the secondary operational processes. A cyclical quality assurance system according to the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) system helps to gear the performance of the learn/work environment to the organisational strategy and gives a picture of the actual reality. It continuously monitors, secures and improves within the given policy frameworks the dynamic needs.
PDCA is interwoven in the accommodation process in several places, scaled differently. In this way, insight into and control over the learn/work environment is created and the associated costs, risks and performance can be proactively managed in a professional manner.
The central question for a quality assurance system: “Is the accommodation adequate and in control?” This question 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 Real Estate Six-Pack model works on the basis of measurable objectives. And adjust accordingly when progress is measurably lagging behind. Turning data into actionable insights. Looking at it this way, it is immediately clear that it is something of the entire organisation. The primary process of education, research and valorisation and the secondary processes of Real Estate, Facility Management, IT and Human Resources. It is a choice in a way of working, for everyone and by everyone!
The following dimensions are considered to determine whether the learn/work environment is adequate.
- LOCATION – Is it in the right place, geographically in the country, city, campus, building?
- FLOOR AREA – Is it of sufficient size to accommodate the dynamic space requirement?
- PERFORMANCE – Is it sufficiently functional for education and research?
- PERFORMANCE – Is it sufficiently technically safe, healthy and sustainable?
- PERFORMANCE – Is it of a sufficiently aesthetic appearance, visible, recognizable and do the users experience it as pleasant and inspiring?
- HOSPITALITY – Is there a sufficient degree of hospitality?
- MONEY/TIME – Is the price/performance ratio market conform/customary acceptable and can we afford it?
- ORGANISATION – Is the learn/work environment manageable and do the RE/FM, IT and HR Departments have the correct organisational form, competencies and capacity for this?
- ORGANISATION – Which (minimal) behavioural and usage agreements are necessary for an integrated social learn/work environment?
An accommodation GPS system facilitates periodic navigation on the ‘Strategic Accommodation Roadmap’. It is a methodical way to map out future frictions in the quantitative and qualitative accommodation situation based on organisational policy. This involves looking at the current accommodation (now) and the desired need for accommodation if the policy remains unchanged (future).
A confrontation between these parameters provides insight into possible (strategic) frictions and gives direction to the necessary interventions to prevent or reduce the frictions. In this way, accommodation remains attuned to the organizational strategy and current spearheads.
Turning conversations based on opinions and beliefs into one based on facts; highlighting where things may be falling short, and ultimately encouraging interventions and behaviours that drive long-lasting change and improvement.
Pathbreaking is a lot more rewarding than benchmarking.
As an organisation, dare to think big, but start small and expand incrementally. Without experimentation, innovation is impossible. Experiment and gradually find out which form and speed of implementation suit the organisation best. Have faith in the process. Like anything new, it takes a bit of trial and error before you get it right, but the payoff is worth it.
ATELIER V supports the preparation of a Six-pack dashboard (360° feedback performance review) and User Journey with RE/FM/IT Touchpoints (Real Estate GPS) to get insights into the success factors that influence performance. This creates opportunities to improve the alignment of the learn/work environment with the strategic objectives.
More information about factsheets and performance dashboards, or a professional second opinion? Contact us by Email, we are happy to serve you.