Many Facility Managers are focused on reacting to and solving problems, not being strategic. It can be fun and rewarding as well as supporting our organization in the short term. That was my approach in the beginning of my career – the belief that I was being paid to do things.
Over time and particularly now as a consultant, I realize that Facility Managers are being paid to think. The more successful FM’s I work with do just that – they are strategic thinkers who achieve more for their departments and their organizations than those who remain tactical.
There is a quote by Peter Drucker I use when delivering training about strategic planning:
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”
Make the Shift from Tactical to Strategic
In FM, you need to shift from being just managers to being leaders so we can demonstrate our true value to the organization not by continuing to do things well, but to change the way we do things so they are the right things for our organizations and improve efficiency, add value and manage costs. Part of leadership is being strategic.
To start the strategic planning process and build momentum for change and improvement, the most important ingredient is time. Before you can be strategic, you need to control the things that are tactical and spend less time on them, creating more time for you to do strategic planning.
Several ways you can get more time is by:
- Hiring and training staff who can do the tactical work without your constant involvement.
- Delegating more to your staff or contractors.
- Change your process so it takes less of your time to deal with tactical issues.
- Let some things wait instead of reacting immediately. That also means not responding to emails and texts continuously and immediately unless they are truly emergencies.
- take control of your calendar and block off time on a regular basis for planning and thinking. Hold firm on that time and don’t give in to other requests for your time. make sure you are off-site and not checking emails, texts or answering the phone. Plan it for a morning and work from home before you head into the office. Take a long lunch and spend it in a coffee shop thinking.
Develop Strategy as a Project
That was the easy part. Now you need to develop your strategic plans. Having recently taught IFMA’s FMP course on Project Management, it reminded me that even strategic planning can be dealt with as a project so once you have made time do more value-added work, including strategic planning, treat your strategic planning initiative as a project.
By doing it like a project, you can work through the process of developing your strategic plan in a more systematic way and be more likely to succeed. You can do this whether it’s for a single issue you are trying to resolve or doing a strategic plan for your entire portfolio. All that changes is the level of detail and the scale.
The main steps include defining the project, planning the project, managing the project and then closing the project.
This is is understanding the purpose of your strategic plan, otherwise known as your objective or goal, creating a charter and doing programming (defining requirements) before you start to develop your strategic plan.
This is about how you will do the actual strategic planning process to arrive at a final plan in the end. This plan is something you should follow but keep in mind you do need flexibility to adapt to changes. It includes your schedule and the timing of various elements of the planning process, who will work on the strategic plan and who are the stakeholders you need to engage, what you are dependent on (such as resource availability and approvals) and any other issues you need to address to be successful.
After you create your plan, this is where the real work begins as you take the steps to create your strategic plan (and as appropriate, tactical plans). You would need to communicate with stakeholders, manage resources and schedule and check to ensure you are going to meet your stated objective.
This is is your finished strategic plan along with final approvals and sign-off so you can start to implement.
Get Approval for your Strategic Plan
Of course, a very important step before you do your strategic planning as a project is to get approval and support in the first place.
Doing your strategic planning with senior management knowledge and support is more likely to lead to success as well as demonstrate your value.
Develop A Business Case
Like a capital project, develop a business case for approval to get senior management excited about the possible outcome. They get approval for the the time it will take by you and other resources, possible costs and ultimately a commitment from senior management to support you in your planning process and ultimately the execution of your strategic plan to achieve a goal they are excited about. This is what builds momentum.
Set goals and timelines
Most importantly, as you try to reduce the time you spend on less important items and tactical processes, It sets a schedule and expectation for completing it – the best way to ensure you focus on the strategic planning instead of being always distracted by day to day issues.