Scroll down for the story so far. Three managers met at the bar of a corporate training centre. Frankie (from HR), Sam (from FM – Facilities Management), and Jules (from CRE – Corporate Real Estate). There has been some discussion, largely around the mystery of why the HR Director has called this Away Day, “so we actually talk to each other, and share information and experiences”. But then, Sam met Charlie (IT Strategy) who provided an insight.
Charlie left, to get showered and changed for dinner. Sam was considering doing the same, just as Jules returned to the bar. “Got a few minutes, Sam?” asked Jules. As FM reports into CRE, Sam took that more as a statement than a question. Jules didn’t wait for a reply anyway, “I’ve had an email from the Finance Director …keen to engage an architect to do some modelling of what we may actually need in terms of the new HQ …options, stats, etc.”
Sam raised an eyebrow, in a Roger Moore style. “The FD didn’t mean ‘architect’ though, right?”
“Why not?” asked Jules, keen to get on to the real purpose of the discussion.
Sam left a short pause, for Jules to continue. But it wasn’t going to happen, so Sam replied, “Well, just that I thought we might develop an outline brief first, so we can give the architect a better idea of what we are looking for”.
Jules wasn’t in the mood for a philosophy on how to deliver buildings, having owned the firm’s ‘estate plan’ and appointed teams to deliver major capital projects for years. Jules replied, “Have you read the RIBA Plan of Work, Sam? Stage 1 – Preparation and Brief. Architects are trained to take a brief …and we have the experience to brief the architect …where’s the problem?”
Jules assumed that Sam wouldn’t know, having moved from a hotel management background into FM. But overlooked the fact that Sam had worked on the development of hotels.
“Stage 0 – Strategic Definition… added in the new 2013 Plan of Work” replied Sam, “and you find me an experienced architect who has a deep knowledge of that, and I’ll buy you an expensive dinner, Jules”.
Jules retorted, impatiently, “So, what’s solution? I was just going to ask you if you have experience working with any of the large firms?”
“I have worked with a couple” Sam replied, “But, in the hotel group we had an evidenced-based design …EBD… approach. This was actually led by the marketing team, and their customer insight managers. In fact, it was essentially a research function. The unit head had a PhD in Organisational Anthropology …really interesting guy. If you walked through a hotel with him, you saw it differently – not just a building, but a series of processes and human interactions, stimulated or facilitated by the physical environment.”
Sam realized that Jules had switched off. Time to step back, and build up slowly. Sam knew that architects, surveyors and engineers…the building team…we’re generally not well versed in social science. But that was exactly what this project needed. Behaviourists, psychologists, organizational development …maybe from HR? Maybe there may be people in Marketing? Certainly, there were consultants out there. But not architects!
“You look a bit tired, Jules” said Sam, “Shall we get some dinner?” Jules agreed; not sold on all this research stuff, but hungry. It was tiring working with Sam…but, grudgingly, it was interesting.