I’m excited about our upcoming “mini” white paper on tenant service request workflow that Building Engines will distribute next week. While I don’t necessarily think a lot about workflow specifically – nor do I spend free time diagramming flowcharts and decision trees – I do spend a lot of time thinking about how we can get better at what we do, and how I can embrace change personally and help do the same at our company.
I was reminded of the second part of that this past weekend while at a friend’s 50th birthday party. I was fortunate to spend some time speaking with my friend’s father where I learned that after a successful business career, rather than retire, he committed to test whether he had any talent behind his long held love of art and desire to be an artist. He dove into painting, added sculpting and worked in a number of different mediums, until one day another artist shared one of his paintings with a gallery owner who immediately committed to a show of his works. He’s in multiple galleries now and his works sell in the thousands. He is considered an up and coming “emerging artist” to watch at 77 years young!
Change is hard for all of us individually, and certainly hard for organizations where there so many different stakeholders attached to processes and other forces at work. However, much like my friend’s dad, change can be exciting, keep us “young”, and certainly help keep us relevant. And when change is part of a focused effort to make ourselves and our organizations better, well then, that’s powerful stuff.
I’ll go one step further and say that organizations that don’t truly commit to regular introspection and create a culture – along with the associated processes – to constantly evaluate ways to improve their business and embrace change, will ultimately fall behind their competitors and put their businesses at risk. The corporate graveyard is littered with the corpses of big companies who failed to do exactly that and were passed by more nimble and innovative competitors and they failed to adjust. Here are just a few examples of big companies this happened to…or that are on their last legs: Blockbuster, Eastman Kodak, RIM/Blackberry, Toys “R” Us, Sun Microsystems, Barnes & Noble, MCI WorldCom, and Compaq are among a very large list.
We often run into resistance to change and a lack of process to evaluate improvement opportunities when speaking with companies in the commercial real estate space. There are many understandable reasons for this. – It’s human nature to resist change and people are busy. They hold onto current processes as a way to validate their positions, and there is often a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. The problem with that last approach is that the things that are broken are often just enough out of sight until you are forced to address them…and oftentimes, that’s much too late.
Our upcoming tenant service request workflow piece will challenge you to look hard at your current processes related to this fundamental piece of property management – the one thing that you have complete control over. I encourage property management teams to use this opportunity to think hard about their current processes and whether they are as efficient and effective as they can be, or if there are opportunities available to cut out steps, utilize technology more effectively, and re-direct people at more high-value activities by automating some of the actions now handled manually or through outdated systems and processes.
The first step toward real performance improvement begins with critical self-analysis. And, who knows? The end result could be that you find some “tenant service workflow artistry” that is right there in front of you. It could be the change that makes you better and relevant for years to come.