Creating innovation

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Innovation, Leadership | 0 comments

We constantly see magazine articles, blogs, and books that profess methodologies for creating innovation in organizations. I’m here to tell you that innovation doesn’t have to be created. It’s always been there. People are natural problem-solvers. It’s in our nature. We look at our situation, we look at what we have, and we naturally try to come up with a solution. Sometimes in this quest to solve problems, we innovate – we come up with something new. Where does the “new” come from? According to Plato, necessity is the mother of invention, and I have to agree. When we’re faced with a need, our brains try lots of different scenarios to come up with a viable solution. Sometimes we link previous experiences with our current situation and come up with something entirely new. For example, working in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland, Albert Einstein was exposed to questions related to the synchronization of time which led to thought experimentation and eventually to his theory of relativity....

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Culture plays a vital role in mission-critical organizations

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Leadership | 0 comments

Dictionary.com says that “culture” is “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.” But if you examine the process of culture – or how culture works – you find that culture is the set of shared values that drives common behaviors and goals. This is why culture plays a vital role in mission-critical organizations: Your culture is the reason people act and behave the way they do. Mission-critical organizations are differentiated by their performance, which is a reflection of the organization’s culture (behaviors and beliefs or philosophies). The high-performing mission-critical organization values the responsibility, authority, and respect/appreciation that they derive from accomplishing tough jobs. By living the motto “Failure is not an option,” they accomplish goals with a unique perspective. They are extremely risk averse. Not to say that they won’t try to accomplish the impossible or merely tough to do, but rather they will work to mitigate all the risk so that these tasks have the greatest probability of success....

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Understanding organizational values and hiring of management

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in Facilities Management, Featured, Leadership | 1 comment

In my last blog (Hiring a Facilities Manager), I mentioned that it is important for a candidate’s values to align with an organization’s values if the candidate is to be successful in their new position. In fact, this attribute, more than any other, dictates whether they can be successful in an organization or not.  What makes alignment of values more important in the hiring process than knowledge, skill, and experience? Values form the basis of everyday decisions Every day, managers and leaders make decisions.  It is one of the critical aspects of the position of manager or leader.  During the hiring process, we specifically look for the ability to analyze whatever is necessary to support good decisions, but what is the basis upon which those decisions will ultimately be made?  The values of the individual making the decision will dictate the outcome of the decision. You see, we make decisions based upon our values and beliefs, and we do analysis to determine what decisions will align with those values.  In a sense, the decisions we make must support our personal values and beliefs, or the conflict that arises will eventually create insurmountable tension.  What can result is a situation where a good decision for the organization may conflict with the manager’s values and beliefs....

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Hiring a facilities manager

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Facilities Management, Featured, Leadership | 6 comments

Tradition may dictate that the best technician or the most senior person in your organization be promoted into supervisory or managerial positions, but this practice may not always be the best choice in reality.  Yes, the best technician or most senior person most likely demonstrates some of the technical knowledge and skill that would be required of anyone filling the role of facilities manager.  But the fact is that if you don’t look for these other important traits when you make the hire, your facilities manager will likely fail – or at least fail to be as successful as they need to be. In The Crucial Role Of The Facilities Manager In Mission Critical Environments, I discussed what to look for when hiring a facilities manager (or any member of the facilities management team, for that matter) but how do you know which candidates actually embrace these qualities? To answer this question, we must take an honest look at some of the most important traits for success in the position:...

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Dancing with the devil you know

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Facilities Management, Featured, Innovation, Leadership, Site Improvement | 4 comments

I have often had the opportunity to make decisions about which vendors or contractors to use during my career and, like many, I chose the easy way out – I just extended the contract or agreement.  In hindsight, I have to say, I missed a great opportunity.  I continued to dance with the devil I knew rather than with the angel I didn’t. On one occasion, however, I took a different approach by inviting several vendors to compete for a contract.  We did a very thorough specification and evaluation based upon what we needed, backed it up with research, and articulated it in such a manner as to be able to compare apples to apples. After we narrowed our selection to three vendors and had them perform for us, we evaluated the results – which showed that we should go with a new vendor.  The decision actually gave us exactly what we needed at a very significant cost savings.  Add to this the fact that the new company was also local and gave us almost immediate response to our issues, and you can see why it was a very satisfying outcome....

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The maintenance we miss

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Facilities Management, Incidents/Downtime, Leadership, Training | 4 comments

It’s not uncommon for data centers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year maintaining vital equipment.  A typical maintenance budget can run 1 percent to 3 percent of your initial capital investment for each year of operation, and this amount goes up as the equipment ages.  It’s a necessary evil if you expect high levels of reliability in your data center operations.  But curiously, in this industry (and many others, by the way) the budget allocated to maintain their most important asset is usually a mere fraction by comparison. Are maintenance budgets misallocated? It’s well known that human-caused downtime is one of the largest reasons for downtime – if not the largest reason.  It’s just an observation, but oftentimes in my personal experience, I see an allocation of budgeted resources that doesn’t align with what we say is important.  Many budgets look like this: Equipment maintenance budget – $600,000/year Training for technicians budget – $10,000/year (if that)...

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