My believe in EuroFM - letter to the EuroFM members by Ron van der Weerd, Chair of EuroFM
After five years of chairmanship (2012-2016)
Looking back at an allover successful EFMC 2016 in Milan and thinking over all the conversations we had with a lot of people concerning the fact that it is time for EuroFM to change and improve to guarantee a sustainable future, I am writing this letter.
Merely to write things down so that we might not forget them. But also to stimulate you all to think my words over, talk about it in your network and with peers and come up with other/ better suggestions.
It is also my “personal statement as a sort of hand over document” since my term as a chair after five years is coming to an end.
In times of rethinking your existence I always prefer to go back to basics.
To my believe the main ‘raison d’etre’ for EuroFM:
'Enhancing the FM profession by creating an FM (and FM related) network (platform) and connecting FM stakeholders in the FM practice, the FM Research and FM education world. Thus initiating and stimulating activities and projects for our members to participate in and benefit from.'
Being a EuroFM member and having easy access to and participation in the network and its activities, to my opinion, is the ‘basic’ added value of EuroFM.
It is as simple as that and I think we should always keep it that simple and also always keep that in mind.
Our network is European based but open for anybody outside Europe. Essential and in line with our roots, we have no ambitions what so ever to become a global FM association. For our members it can be of value if we also have (strong) links to organizations like Global FM, IFMA, New Zealand FMA, Australian FM association, RICS, CoreNet, Latin American National Associations, FM associations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia etc. So we, as EuroFM, the European FM network organization, we are always open to these links, connections and collaborations.
As EuroFM we are open for everyone and bound to nobody.
As EuroFM we are not a supra-national European FM association with the national associations as members. Also for the national FM associations we are a European network of FM associations.
Strictly spoken EuroFM is not an association of associations. Although we use this wording pretty often. It is comparable to how EuroFM relates to the members who are partaking in the EuroFM network groups: with the membership of universities or associated companies we do not represent these universities and companies. We also can’t legally bind them or talk on behalf of them unless we have specifically agreed to do so.
This makes us different from for instance IFMA, RICS, but also BIFM who all have global ambitions to serve the American, British or surveyors interests all over the world.
Personally I think it is essential for EuroFM to always be independent. We should be open to everyone and work and present ourselves as a network organization and within that network initiate events where everybody is welcome and nobody is excluded.
In that way EuroFM is no competitor at all for organizations like IFMA, RICS, BIFM or global FM since they all are members of our network. In some European countries (national) FM associations are organized and set up as an IFMA chapter. As an IFMA chapter these are a member of EuroFM. At the same time having their own membership arrangements with IFMA, meaning their headquarters in Houston USA. All of that fits without a problem within the network organization EuroFM. At the same time, I think, in order to prevent any complications or misunderstandings, it is wise for EuroFM to have clear arrangements around the individual European IFMA chapters in relation to IFMA Houston and the EuroFM membership regulations and fees.
Being independent and open to everyone for me is also the reason why I am in favor of organizing the EFMC in the way that we are doing now from 2017 on and in a way that no longer binds us to others. That of course has been causing some anxiety.
In the mean time we have already seen some changes. Changes that are going in the right direction. As EuroFM we will have talks with IFMA to see how to collaborate in the future. This could also be already in 2017, to make sure that we will all work together (without excluding FM stakeholders) on organizing only one big yearly European FM event in Europe.
I have a strong believe in our own strength as a European Network Organization. As Europeans we are unique in the world. With many differences in languages, habits, histories, cultures, political systems, educational systems, ways of working, ways of designing and building, ways of managing etc., etc., etc. It is our beauty, it is our strength. We are united in diversity. And respecting such diversity we meet, mingle, talk and socialize and set up good relations. These meetings, these good relations are the basis for learning from each other by sharing knowledge, experiences and challenges. A process that is as a cradle for new (and hopefully sometimes innovative) FM life.
A believe ‘in our European uniqueness and strength should, to my opinion, be the foundation for all our activities. Also for our EFMC. We also expect that from a PCO helping us organizing an event like that. The EFMC never is a (commercial) goal on its own. Enhancing the profession by bringing people together on interesting FM topics, research questions and outcomes and learning possibilities in education and training, that is the goal! Involvement in and passion for FM, having an FM network, short communication lines, true partnership, openness and willingness to try new things and really involve young professionals is the reason why we are now working with CIFMERS Global.
Organizing the EFMC in a new way offers great opportunities to change and improvement. Not only on the content and program activities but also in the way we structure it and make it more attractive but also more accessible to young professionals.
In my opinion there is also nothing wrong with EuroFM having a strong “academic/ educational/ scientific/ research” image. It is part of our strength. Explore and exploit this image in the right way makes us as attractive to FM companies (demand and supply side) as honey to the bees. Every FM (demand and supply) company wants to be at the birthplace of new FM insights. The place where research is being conducted, outcomes are being presented and best practices shared. The place where they can meet and experience young FM professionals, where they can influence training and educational programs, bring forward the right research questions and meet their peers and learn to know new unknown markets.
In this area I believe that a strong collaboration with the IFMA FOUNDATION is a welcome development. Bringing the scientific/ educational, applied sciences society of the US together with the European society in this field, with respect for the historic and different situation here in Europe is of course a great thing. Also an issue where EuroFM is striving for already for many years. But of course, based on an equal partnership, motivated to learn from each other. Bringing together these educational and research societies in a way that they can both benefit from it.
EuroFM should always focus on being a real network organization. As such: building bridges and connecting people. Initiate and support new ideas and challenges within FM.
When we focus on certain “themes” that identify EuroFM and are recurrent and repetitive themes in our activities it will improve the awareness and recognition of EuroFM. A long lasting focus on certain themes is important. Expectations should be managed carefully. Improving, new/ other insights, paradigm shifts, re-developing, redesigning, problem solving, best practices are in this respect modest and maybe realistic terms to use.
Things like these only work if we are consistent and truly motivated to seek what is best for FM. For me, a shared focus point on the horizon is essential for every organization and thus also for an organization like EuroFM. I think it is a very important condition for any board of EuroFM now and in the future. Mutual trust and believe in each other in how and what one is doing and striving for can make people work as a real team. A EuroFM board should always try to form a real team with real team players.
Being aware of what you are, why you have been raised as an organization and staying loyal to that is crucial for a network organization like EuroFM.
Board positions should be approved by hand raising and overall agreed on and preferably change every two years. Not as a result of campaigning on a personal agenda about which direction EuroFM should be heading for. Such intention in my opinion also is very clearly written in our constitution. The members are in charge, not the board. The sweat on the back should be on members participating in projects they want to participate in. The board is there to listen and initiate and facilitate things.
The added value of EuroFM is within the creativity, knowledge, experience and willingness to share and learn of its members. A board is only there to serve and facilitate that. To serve as a united team. United in diversity. United in serving EuroFM as a true and real network organization.
September 23rd 2016
Ron van der Weerd, chair EuroFM