--> Gill Blog: June 2004

Gill Blog

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Stepping Up to the Plate at the 14th WCDM

Lazenby or Gehrig? That is the question, and only time will tell. We're talking about replacements here--one memorable, the other, forgettable. Lou Gehrig, was the storied first baseman for the New York Yankees who cracked the roster in the mid-20's and got his big chance when he replaced Wally Pipp (who had to surrender his position to Gehrig after taking a liner to his noggin). Gehrig never looked back from his first big break, and for the next thirteen years he owned first base. He became so famous, in fact, that the neurological disease that took his life is named after him. Gehrig's retirement speech at Yankee Stadium went down in history as one of the greatest moments in public speaking.

George Lazenby, on the other hand, the hand-picked replacement for Sean Connery in the James Bond series (apparently Connery had announced he had tired of the role and told the producers he wouldn't be back) didn't fare quite as well. Yes, Lazenby appeared as Bond in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service but, regardless of the quality of the film, which some consider the best in the Bond serie, it turned out to be a one-time shot for Lazenby, and we never heard from him again.

The connection to the blog? This was the week of the 14th World Conference on Disaster Management - always a great event. So there I was on the first day settling into a great presentation by Peter Power, the Managing Director of Visor Consultants Ltd. from the U.K. Peter was discussing the importance of moving a Silo organizational mindset to one that moves more toward synergies. Without notice, a couple of gentlemen from the conference approached and tapped me on the shoulder. For just a moment, I thought there were going to forcebly remove me for checking emails on my TREO, but in fact they came to discuss a problem: one of the conference speakers who was scheduled to make a presentation that day had come down with laryngitis and was unable to speak. I was a bit surprised when they said, "Tony, can you step up to the plate next?" The first thought that danced through my head was "Lazenby or Gehrig".

Anyway, without thinking about this for too long, I agreed and presented "Workplace Continuity" a few hours later. I was fairly satisfied with my presentation on such short notice, especially since it tied in very nicely with the overall theme of connecting silos established by the previous presenter. But, only time will tell whether my future as a speaker at business continuity and disaster management conferences is similar to the fortunes of the famous first baseman, Gehrig, or the fate of that one-flick-wonder, Lazenby, whose notable Bond line is only remembered in trivial pursuit--"This Never Happened to the Other Fellow."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

GSA's WorkPlace 20-20

Just returned from D.C. where I participated in the W4 conference sponsored by the GSA -have to say, just a great event. The GSA's Innovative Workplaces division (who I have referenced before in this blog) is mandated to structure change initiatives in the workplace based that align with changing socio-economic imperatives. The audience provided a wide array of international participants who largely represent GSA equivalents in their respective countries of origin. In this case those countries were: the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Japan and The Netherlands. Much of the emphasis in this year's event focussed on technology, specifically, the effect of teleworking on location-based organizations. Fortunately for me, this tied in very closely with the Workplace Continuity initiative we are developing, and getting a chance to address such a select group was a privilege.

The forum presented an impressive array of speakers. I was particularly intrigued by a discussion led by Kevin Kampschroer, Director of Research with the GSA's Public Building Service. Kevin's currently leading a nationwide initiative called WorkPlace 20.20. This program's mission is as follows:
"We help federal agencies better serve the public by offering, at best value, superior workplaces, expert solutions, acquisition services and management policies."

This program has clearly caught the attention of the US media, in a number of key publications, as well as with selected strategic partners.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the discussions included the metaphor of a zoo, and how zoo 'operators' at one point recognized that animals were unhappy in padlocked cages. As a result, new environments were created that were more aesthetically pleasing to their tenants. He then described the human zoo, and the need to take the lead from zoos and create more pleasing and logically laid out workspaces. This project is based on extensive research (e.g. things such as examining social networks and types of interactions), and like other programs within the GSA, be a catalyst for change within both the public and private sectors.

I will stay abreast with developments within innovative workplaces, and will undoutedly pass that information on to you.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Workplace Continuity

I have to apologize for not posting here in the past week. I promised to share some interesting stories of my recent trip to India, and I will. In the meantime, let me tell you what's been keeping me so busy since I got back.

I have been preparing for the WorldWide Workplace Web (W4) Conference, in Washington D.C., where I'll be speaking next week. An international conference for public sector real property professionals, W4 promises to be an excellent forum in which Gill Advisors can introduce the new concept we have been developing--Workplace Continuity.

The premise is fairly straightforward. As organizational policies change in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, floods, fires, pandemics, and blackouts, so too does the definition of "workplace". Events of mass disruption force organizations to redefine the fundamental elements of workplace, placing renewed emphasis on ergonomics, sustainability, worker flexibility and continuous operation of business regardless of the severity or duration of disruption.

These factors, combined with the proliferation of new technology, the ubiquity of broadband, and the corresponding advancement of teleworking, change the fundamental dynamics of workplace and the corresponding patterns of real estate usage.

I'll be sharing some of the learnings from my recent trip to India, too, and exploring how these affect our work here in North America. As soon as we're back from the W4 Conference, we'll get deeper into all that good stuff. In the meantime, I thought this article from India about a week ago was particularly relevant to our discussions.

In my conference presentation, I'll talk about how the changing standards within a knowledge-based workplace will change performance. Before too long, common standards such as an employee's "time at the desk" and charisma--heretofore common benchmarks for evaluating performance--will be replaced by fulfillment of a prescribed set of deliverables. This is best reflected in this quote from the article:
"The profession is completely skill-based,"...Recruiters judge candiates purely on the basis of the programs they write and the way they react to challenging situations.
For those who plan to attend the W4 conference, I look forward to continuing discussions in Washington; for those hard at work at their desks--you know who you are--I'll be posting from the conference next week, so come back then to see what we've learned from others.