From Risk to Opportunity
Is there such a thing as a silver cloud with a dark lining?
The Conference Board is launching a Council on Corporate Real Estate. An influential network of top executives, the Conference Board has dozens of councils, including groups for CFOs and CIOs. The new council is one more piece of evidence that top management has its eye on the costs and benefits of physical assets.
That’s good for executives responsible for those assets, but it also represents a challenge — even a risk. When the CEO starts watching a department, it’s safe to say expectations rise. Top management looks for best-practices performance in areas like outsourcing, ethics, cost control and customer service.
What’s more, top real estate and facility executives will be expected to contribute to a cross section of organizational objectives, from environmental issues like climate change to communicating the corporate mission — to name two areas the Conference Board has looked at lately.
Some facility executives define their jobs by a narrow set of priorities, like ensuring the backup generator is reliable or the controls system is effective. Make no mistake: Those matters are important. But they won’t interest a top executive. And facility executives who see technical areas as the essence of their jobs might see top management attention as a risk.
Another way to look at things is to focus on the opportunity to influence top management. Top executives may not care about generators or controls, but they are concerned about business continuity and employee satisfaction. Facility executives who understand and can address broad business priorities are in a better position to make the case that facilities should be among those priorities.