Move! or at least rearrange the furniture.

Move! or at least rearrange the furniture.

My family moved 23 times before I graduated highschool.  As I think back on all of the places we lived, what I remember are the stories.  I remember chasing my sister around and around in the house where the bedroom hall was connected to both living and dining in a big loop.  In the split level home at about fifth grade, I remember gracefully descending  the stair-landing-stair combination in my elegant dress up princess gown playing beauty pageant.  In another home, I remember trying to figure out whether an umbrella would actually work as a parachute, like in the cartoons, if I jumped from the big tree to the porch roof.

I can usually sketch out a floor plan after a few moments of walking around in a space but in these earliest of memories, I can only draw the plan features that support the activities in these memories.  Each of these spaces provided the physical environment that allowed those stories to take place.  Those stories are embedded in my memories and combine with others to make me who I am today.  In that way, the physical environment shaped me.

Science is beginning to prove in significant ways that our physical environment drives our behavior by creating opportunities or preventing specific activities.  The physical environment is mapped into our brains through these activities.  So if that is true, which research says it is, then the category “facilities” may be one of the most underutilized strategic tools in the world of business.  The c-suite tends to demand low cost/low maintenance or maybe a particular look, but how powerful a tool could facilities be if it were approached as a lever to drive employee and customer behavior.

Aligning strategy diagramDesign matters, not because it is pretty or award winning.  Facilities strategy matters, not because it is low cost or low maintenance or functional.  Businesses today face huge competition on all fronts and facilities has to get off the bench and on the field.  Facilities is more than a supporting player – it drives the behavior that creates alignment that is the flywheel to business success.

And for the record, all of that is also true of your home environment.  If you don’t like the results you are getting, Move!  or at least rearrange the furniture.