The 1817 novel written by Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, which interestingly enough is the name of the scientist and not the name of the creature he created. The young doctor sought to discover “the mysterious soul of Man”, and to that end he joined parts taken from different corpses to make one body, with the aim of bringing it to life. Something similar happens in Facility Management. It is a set of various competencies with different origins, but which must fulfil a common objective, that of supporting a company.
All organisations need to rely on some kind of real estate or infrastructure which has to satisfy demand efficiently. Those involved in the business must also have their operational needs covered. Everything must be integrated under the same umbrella. The work being performed determines the type of support required. Industry trends, the maturity of a region or the culture of the organisation will also affect the support model. Many factors must be aligned: space, operational services, sustainability or internal projects, among others. But this alignment must be collective, not individual.
Our Frankenstein model appears when each area acts on the basis of a particular objective, without aiming to coordinate as one single body. If one leg wants to move to the right and the other to the left, it will never move forward. One of the difficulties lies in the fact that different FM roles may be spread across different departments of the company and, to some degree, may operate independently. They must now either surrender some of their rights or pool competencies for the sake of a larger model, which is no easy task.
All FM content has been taught for decades at a number of universities. Degree programmes range from 3 to 5 years and cover the entire scope of the discipline, approaches varying depending on the region. When shorter courses are designed, one must decide what to include, in terms of competencies and detail. Nevertheless, a common thread must remain: Facility Management. Where there is no career path, there is no overall vision, leading to a loss of perspective. This is when Frankenstein study programmes appear. They are created by using independent sessions taken from other courses in facilities, industrial organisation, technology, finance or human resources, added together and called a Master’s degree in FM.
We discovered this by interviewing a potential teacher for our course. He told us that “time and stress management is the same for everyone, whether they are part of the FM environment or not.” At this point we understood that all content, even that of the most common subjects, should be prepared by experts with in-depth knowledge of Facility Management. Writing original material to produce 3000 hours of course content, over 2.5 million written words, has not been easy, but it has been worth it. We might say that we have created a human being and not a freak like young Victor.
Frankenstein is considered the first modern science fiction story. Facility Management and what it encompasses is real, but just as with the names of the scientist and his creation, they can be confused. Allowing a being made up of several parts to be autonomous is not the same as creating a person; it must have other elements that make it think and act as such, or it will be rejected in the same way as the monster was.
Finally, a curious fact is that although it appears in many of the films and comics, electricity is never mentioned in the original novel. In FM, on the other hand, we do have to integrate energy and sustainability into the existing model.