During a recent flight to South Africa I sat beside an inspiring lady who had setup an aid organisation that is helping the children of Uganda get a better education. When we exchanged business cards I was surprised to see a quote from Nelson Mandela on the back: “The power of education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. It was one of those light bulb moments.
It dawned on me that to achieve Mandela's vision, children needed facilities that, according to Mandela, will provide an environment that can change a country's future – buildings that are fit for the purpose of educating young and old. Buildings that will be safe and will have a level of comfort so that learning can take place. Buildings that come with the tools and infrastructure that are necessary for teaching and learning. Buildings that, if they are given due care, maintenance and refurbishment, will be able to effect generational change in building a country's or even the world's future.
I've look back at the work we are doing for the Provincial Government Western Cape and now really appreciate their 'reason why' they are assessing all of their schools using our approach and software. Although it may seem obvious to many, the majority can just see the process of asset management planning being a compliance activity. In their case, the 'reason why' becomes compelling and is driving change that will make a real difference to the country in years to come. This is beyond ensuring a 'return on investment' - it is ensuring community value is built over time and although intangible, what a difference this can make.
It has had a profound effect on the way I now ensure all of our client projects have a firm understanding of their 'reason why'. While there is always a strong emphasis on the bottom line and RoI, the greater purpose is to provide buildings to communities around the world that are fit for purpose and sustainable – buildings that just work as they should. Hospitals for the sick, schools for our children, grounds for our athletes, theatres for our artists, factories and commercial buildings for our workers. Any asset that is not maintained will eventually decay, put people at risk and have the potential to reduce our community value over time. Our role as asset management practitioners not only helps owners and facility managers sustain the life of their building assets but ensuring that they provide for it's occupants both now and well into the future – thinking and acting long term.
Mandela has left a lasting legacy for the world to embrace – I think that our asset management industry has the opportunity to leave one too. Asset management may not be naturally viewed as world changing but we like to think that what we are helping property owners achieve is making a real difference to the wider community and beyond.