Practically from birth, I was creating messes and avoiding cleaning them. My room was a perpetual disaster, and my mother would hound me weekly to clean my room, pick up my clothes, and organize my closet. I would argue, quite convincingly, that I didn’t need my room cleaned because I was already organized. I knew where everything was and believe it or not, I had a system.
Now I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I’d bet money that most of us out there can relate to these scenarios in one way or another. Notice the two key words: Organize and System. Even from a very early age we are all in one way or another organizing and developing a system to manage our “stuff”. Some systems are better than others only through the eyes of the opposition.
As I grew and went through the normal stages of childhood and maturing, my interests of course changed. Through all these stages I had my own system of organizing my stuff, my life and they were all predicated on my interests at the time. As soon as I was no longer interested in something, I never gave it another thought or care where it was. Amazingly, so many companies and institutions organize their “stuff” the same way.
Many years have passed since those days and today (ironically perhaps) I dedicate myself to helping corporate users organize their real estate data so they can vastly enhance their processes, mission and profitability. The reason I incorporate my childhood stories is because the parallels are amazing. In my story, I was the only one being disorganized. However, in the professional world, there may be 10, 20, 50 or even more leaders/managers in an organization all sharing the same toys, but at different stages of interest.
Finance has the data they’re interested in, marketing theirs. Sales likes some of the “stuff” marketing cares about and operations is interested in all of it. The BoD and CEO are usually interested in fragments of all the toys, but especially the financial and regulatory pieces. IT often times is the mother who is tasked with cleaning the rooms of all the children and leaving the toys in a manner in which they can all be easily found and “played with” the next day.
For more than 16 years I’ve been touting the same mantra: get organized, get strategic. Nearly everyone jumps at the strategic part, but very few pay much attention the get organized part. Sound familiar? We all are eager to jump right into the doing stuff, playing part, but not nearly as enthusiastic about the getting organized part.
The cold hard truth though, is without a well thought-out organization of your data, your ability to effectively strategize in flawed. We all focus on the data and KPIs we are interested in now and often overlook other data that seems irrelevant today. Data is just data until someone recognizes it’s a toy they are interested in and can’t find.
I advise acquaintances and clients alike, take a holistic approach to your data. Take the time to evaluate and properly organize ALL of your data, bearing in mind your information needs will change over time. I’ve said it many times and I’ll keep saying it; get organized first!
We live in an age of progress and advancement. It has become routine for seemingly countless new companies and specialized technologies to come into the CRE marketplace, all touting some flavor of strategic advantage. There are financial tools, analysis tools, stacking plan tools, energy management tools, sustainability tools, dashboards, lease admin, property management, cloud within the cloud on top of the cloud, etc.
Regardless of what tools you choose to incorporate into your organization, take the time to get organized first. You will gain the structure and flexibility to analyze and strategize much more effectively if you get this step right.