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WW2012 – Essential credentials

5 November 2012 


IFMA World Workplace 2012 ended last Friday after an exhausting four days in one of America's nicest cities, San Antonio.


Inevitably an event of this size has its ups and downs, but the feedback from attendees was almost uniformly positive. Subjectivity is unavoidable in judging these things, given that whether one finds a presentation useful or interesting depends so much on ones’ prior knowledge, and you can't always know from an event title and description whether the thinking behind it is going to be revelatory, revolutionary, or merely revisionary.

What can be said without doubt is that at IFMA (International Facility Management Association), the quality of presentations is always professional, engaging and well informed. The organisation does a good job of selecting its speakers and providing them with the support to enable them to make the most of the sessions they are presenting. An hour, however, is a long time to fill with a talk and some presenters find it difficult to maintain the level of interest during that period.

There is a balance to be found, I think, between the 30 minutes allotted by EFMC and the one-hour slots that IFMA uses, and certainly there could be more time allowed for questions and discussion than currently seems to be the norm. (By the way, the record reported number of slides in a one-hour presentation is 178 — which I have to say I'm pleased to have missed.)

A quirky idea, and one I think the BIFM could adopt, is that IFMA produces a range of stickers to attach to the delegate credential badges. These say useful things like  ‘first-time attendee’, ‘speaker’, or detail the credentials that person holds, your SIG membership – there are there are dozens of options.

This year my attention was caught by a series of new ones (to me at least) including ‘troublemaker’, ‘whinger’, and especially for Halloween an orange one saying ‘I'm out of my mind’. Needless to say, as none of those apply to your correspondent I was unable to avail myself of them…

Lastly, and on a serious note, only one Brit made a presentation, and there were no British companies at the Expo that I could see (if I'm wrong, I'm sure you will let me know!). There is no question that British influence at WW is down on what it was 10 years ago, when our attendance was routinely 15-20 people, and we made many presentations that often led the debate on how FM should develop.

British FMs have a really good story to tell and some great ideas and experiences to share. But if the British — all of us, this isn't aimed at the BIFM — don't engage to promote our ideas to the world, then all the developing nations will end up listening to other sources for their understanding of ‘best practice’. Whatever we do, we need to do more to promote the excellent experience and ideas that exist among our members. Let’s make an effort to make WW2013 in Philadelphia the year of the Brit.

Dave Wilson is a director of specialist international FM consultancy Agents4RM. He is a former BIFM deputy chair and convenor of the CEN working group on benchmarking.


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