By Stephen Bennett
24 July 2008
The futurist Wendell Bell says that we are all time travellers, with a one way ticket towards the future. Consequently, it makes sense to think about the future of FM knowledge. We all think about the future in our personal, professional and business lives - will it be better to walk or go by bus? What education and training would best support my work next year? What should be in my organisation's new business plan? Ways of thinking about the field, collaboration and time frames are all considerations for the future of FM.
There are various ways of thinking about the field of FM that are more or less useful depending on the situation. FM can be approached as a sector (eg SICs), as a discipline (eg CEN) and as a profession (eg BIFM competences). There is a need to integrate these and other methods of objective description, both taxonomies and 'folksonomies', with what FM means to us as individuals and as a community.
Gathering different views through collaboration is vital, as is linking important groups together, particularly industry and academia. It's important that people are free to express both bold and conservative views, so that FM can develop its potential. FM can be seen as a diverse area, and so it will be important to look at boundaries and links with other more generalist and more specific disciplines.
Different time frames fit different purposes. Understanding the past hopefully helps us to learn from history. Current debate assists in establishing the state-of-the-art in FM, and may contain seeds for future ideas. How far into the future do we need to look? In the short term we might focus on market intelligence to inform business decisions. In the medium term we might look at innovations diffusing through industry, where quite rationally an idea that is history to one organisation might be the future for another. In the long term, there is the very human perspective of considering what life might be like for future generations, and the responsibility that this imposes on us all.
Bringing together all these strands of thinking is a challenge, which will require facilitating collaboration between those inside and outside the industry on the future of the area we call FM knowledge. The BIFM itself is now taking a longer-term view on its potential contribution as a hub in the network of FM knowledge development.