Improving Performance Bit by Bit

Facilities management as an iterative process is on my mind. I just finished up an article on high performance office strategies for the April issue of Building Operating Management and something one of my sources said reminded me of an earlier piece I did on office repositioning. Both sources said the best approach is to continuously strive to improve the facility. It's not about just maintaining the asset in an effort to keep it from deteriorating, but seeing it as a living system that is continuously evolving. Facility managers should constantly be making course corrections to make sure the built environment best serves the goals of the organization.

For example, in the repositioning piece, Brian Harnetiaux, then BOMA International’s chair-elect and senior vice president at McCarthy Cook, said that the repositioning process is continuous, and there's a balance to strike between trendy and timeless. "There are big renovations that happen," Harnetiaux says, "But it's also continuous at the same time. You're trying to keep up with your competition, but you don't have the money to just redo it, and redo it."

That last bit, not having the money to just redo it over and over, is not news of course to anyone reading this. But it points out the care that must be taken when making changes in the softer side of FM. These are costly changes that should be undertaken with thoughtful care, not just to try something new. For my upcoming April article in Building Operating Management, Joseph White, director of workplace strategy at Herman Miller, says it's very important to take the time to understand how an aspect of a space might be helping or hindering a task and evaluate ways to improve the way that one aspect is functioning.

"It's so rare that we can start from scratch and build a new environment but what we can do is start to identify aspects within the current workplace system that aren't performing as high as some of the others and identify them as ways to test new concepts," he says.

That starts to sound an awful lot like continuous commissioning, doesn't it? Which I find thrilling and intriguing to no end. Tell me about your continuous commissioning process in your facility's interiors (and exteriors). When's the last time you gave serious thought to how well the individual components of a workstation are optimizing the employee's efforts? Have you cast a critical eye on the approach to your facility from the street and how it compares with your competition? I want to hear it all — success, frustrations, etc.

You can find my repositioning piece at And stay tuned for the April issue. It should be hitting your inbox/mailbox in short order. If you're not already subscribed, you can sign up at

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