Tag Archives: facilities management

election report 29 April 2010 #ge2010

Well, that’s April done with. Less than a week to go now and I’ve posted my vote off today just in case I don’t get back in time to vote on Thursday.

I’ve not been out and about today other than a walk over to the pharmacy this afternoon and that yielded no sign of any posters or signs at all. It does seem very quiet in that respect this election, but I’m not sure why. Are the parties leaning more towards the media, internet and social networking?

As far as the latter goes, from what I’ve seen so far each tribe is shouting about itself. Some of what I read earlier about #bigotgate tends to suggest that there are Labour supporters that think GB had it right with his in car remarks, but then that doesn’t surprise me. Some of these people ought to look the word up in the dictionary and think about how they are behaving.

A pal has challenged me over my expression of sympathy for GB. Fair comment, but I meant it in the sense that many of us in leadership roles will have been caught out by something that we thought had been expressed in a private, and friendly, environment getting out to a wider audience. In case no-one has noticed we are all human and prone to cocking things up from time to time. Great leaders learn from mistakes more than from anything else and my sympathy was in terms of the isolated issue of the bloke relying on his henchpersons (doesn’t that beautifully illustrate what the idiot PC mafia have done to our language), but getting shafted because they all, including him, missed the microphone.

As a facilities manager I, like my colleagues, have handled loads of VIP visits, whether that be company people, celebs, politicos or royalty. The one thing that we are really good at is the details, having our people orgainised and having enough back up plans to cover everything that we can think of and a fair few that we can’t even imagine.It’s what we do day in, day out, so VIPs are fairly easy to slot in, regardless of how difficlut the individuals may be. In most cases the people themselves are fine, it’s the entourage (henchpersons) who are the problem and, as FMs, we’re well versed in working around them to make things a success regardless.

A big part of that is in watching people’s backs for them, and in doing so we don’t have any room for airs and graces or personal ego trips. We do what we have to and bask in the glory afterwards of nobody having even noticed that we were there or what we did. From watching the incident on TV my take on the GB team was that they had their minds on other things. When you are the point person you have to focus on your own job and rely on those around you to do theirs. Someone lost the plot. There have been other examples of live mics and making sure that GB had his taken off was a no-brainer, but it got missed, maybe because of the change of plan to bring in a tame vox pop, or so they thought.

To me the incident smacked of arrogance in more than one individual; the very sort of thing that we facilities managers jjust don’t have time for.

Anyway, I’ll stop typing now. Inadvertantly I’ve padded out this election report with an advert for FMs. Well deserved that may be, I shouldn’t really have included it here, but I’m not going to delete it all now.


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getting the best from Powerpoint, part 2

For those of you that have enjoyed my 10 tips on getting the best from Powerpoint, I do a spoof presentation to illustrate the worst ways to use it with some discussion and examples of good practice. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like me to come along and present to your team or group.

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Are your best friends your PC and your mobile phone?

In these days of texting, mobile phones and social networking is virtual commuication becoming too dominant? Yes it is (fairly) instant and keeps people in touch, but what effect is it having on the art of conversation and social skills?

I use business networking groups as a way of keeping human contact up – what about you?

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2010 BIFM Annual Conference, London

One of the premier global events for Facilities Managers. I’ll be going, and look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.

When: 13th-14th April

Where: Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel

Theme: FM in a changing world

Chair: Sarah Montague, presenter of the Today programme

What else is there? Fantastic keynote speakers, an exhibition, an entertainment-filled gala dinner, and plenary, parallel and fringe sessions covering a range of relevant and exciting topics.

Tickets are available to book via the website link: www.bifmconference.com

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Getting the Best from Powerpoint

Used well it’s a great tool, so why do so many people use it so badly?

Those of us that have to sit through presentations as part of our job know how soul destroying it can be to have half a dozen dud presentations over the course of a day.

Just ask and I’ll be happy to come along to your team, event or meeting and give you my light hearted Death by Powerpoint presentation with some helpful hints on doing it well. Takes about half an hour.

For now, here are my top ten tips:

1 Think about your audience. Even if you have been asked to do a standard talk, how you deliver it can make a big difference, and so can the size of the audience. If your talk is specific, say a sales pitch, then you should be gearing it solely to what the audience have asked for.

2 Your slides are there to help the presentation: You are the focal point not them. Just a few words on each slide, or a picture, that you can talk around is all you need. Try not to use more that 15 words per slide. And never read from the slide.

3 Use a clear font and one with strong contrast to the background. Not all venues have decent light management and you want people to be able to see what you have got. Don’t use fancy fonts either. Anything that detracts from the message is a waste of time.

4 “I’m afraid this slide is a bit busy” and “I’m not sure of you can see all the detail here” are two phrases you don’t want to use. If you can’t get the information on the slide so that people at the back can read it then use a different format. Graphs can be simplified to just show a trend for example and you can put the detail in the handout.

5 Animation is good, but only in limited amounts: You’re not Pixar Studios. A couple of animations to show a trend or similar is good. Leave it at that.

6 A slide should last you through 2 to 3 minutes of talk at least. Use the slides to build your message to a natural conclusion, and keep a regular pace. Try not to have too many messages either, in a 30 to 40 minute talk you only need around 3 at most.

7 Never walk in front of the slides. If you absolutely have to wander around in front of the screen at some point, say at the end when you are taking questions, either turn the projector off or put something in front of the lens to break the beam.

8 Rehearse your timing and make adjustments. Have some notes on a printed set of the slides so that you always know what’s coming next (we all have those moments when our mind goes blank). You want to use your time in front of these people to get your points over. With, say, 3 key messages over 30 minutes a quick intro and a summing up will take about 6 minutes leaving you 8 minutes for each message.

9 Be prepared to share your slides with a set of notes that covers the key messages that you have spoken over them. Have your contact details on them and tell the audience that they are welcome to contact you.

10 Keep to your allotted time. It looks professional and your audience will be more receptive. If you’ve rehearsed properly you should have no problems.

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2010 BIFM Conference – London

I’m thrilled to be speaking in one of the parallel sessions at the BIFM conference on its return to London this April. This is a truly global event and showcases the best that Facilities Management can offer.

If you’re interested in attending, here’s a link to the web site:


Maybe see you there?

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at last an F1 offer?

In my younger days I fancied myself as a racing driver and did do a bit of wheel twirling and marshalling before women entered my life and took all my time and money.

So the call to go to the HQ of Williams GP down the road at Grove came as a pleasant surprise. It’s a business trip though; too old, too tall, too wide and not to mention too slow to pedal the new FW32 for them, and anyway they’ve got the barrow boy and the incredible hulk bloke signed up to drive this season.

Oh well, maybe I’ll get to see some of the cars.

Did I mention that I’d seen FW in his F3 driving days?

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working from home

I first began to work from home in the early 1980s when I was in IT and the equipment supplier for the project I was working on was based nearby and their project manager lived round the corner from me. I could save the 3 hour commute to my London office and back and be more productive against the tight deadline we had.

That worked well, but it was almost 20 years before I did it again, this time pretty much for good. In the time between I had risen up the ladder gaining my own little box office, then a bigger one, then one with a 4 peg coatstand and bookcase (a big ego step!), then a bigger one still only accessible via the office of the secretary that I shared with a fellow director. After a spell at that level I had got the open plan bug, had all the walls taken down and moved through having a desk the same size as everyone else to just hot desking. Then came the moment to move to truly LIW (Location Independant Working) and I’d hot desk (or scrounge one) whenever I was at an office, but worked from the couch, the dining table, hotel lobbies, coffe bars, supermarket cafeterias, airport lounges, on trains – you know the routine.

Over the years I’ve been through most of the stages; delighted, euphpric, bored, depressed, enthused, galvanised, gone native and more, not in any particular order.

Over on my business blog my next Monday Musing, published early on 1 February, will cover my top 10 tips for making working from home work.

Check out the link on the right for Thatconsultantbloke’s Blog. Tell me (or him) what you think.

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book launch in March

I was honoured to be invited to contribute 2 chapters to the latest edition of The Principles of Warehouse Design and am pleased to confirm that the launch has been announced for 10 March 2010. More news will be on the web site of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) and I’ll update this blog and my own web sites as the timing and venue are confirmed.

Congratulations to Peter and his team for their efforts in pulling the project together.

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