Those that know me will know that my brain sometimes works in strange ways!
The current situation we are in with Covid-19 got me thinking about an analogy with your property asset strategies.
The thing is this. When you are feeling sick you might generally choose one of three options.
1. You know what is wrong and so you go to the pharmacy or supermarket and you buy an off the shelf remedy,
2. You really are not sure what is wrong and so you visit a healthcare professional, GP or hospital for example, or
3. You believe that whatever is wrong is not that serious and it is nothing that your own antibodies will not be able to deal with.
Unless you are a bit of a hypochondriac, you are most likely to go for option 1 or 3, hoping to solve the problem themselves, only resorting to option 2 if you have to.
Sometimes you go for option 1 and find you do not feel any better, and you then move to option 2.
If you go for option 3 then similarly you might later choose option 1, and maybe even then option 2 if the situation escalates.
Depending upon the seriousness of what is wrong, often options 1 and 3 do work. But there are times when only option 2 will work – where you need to seek the help of an expert practitioner. Someone that can diagnose what is going on, one who can read the signs (often because they have seen them before) and can identify the right remedy for whatever is ailing you, again because they have seen that remedy work before.
The very same process can often happen with organisation’s property asset strategies.
Some people seek that external remedy straight away (option 1). They believe they know what the problem is. They do not need an external practitioner to diagnose anything for them. They can take a trip to the asset strategy ‘pharmacy’ and grab an off the shelf remedy. And sometimes that obviously does work.
Some organisations are not keen on any sort of external remedy (option 3) - whether practitioner or off the shelf product. These organisations choose to rely on their own organisational ‘antibodies’. They do not feel the need for outside help, either because they are certain it will all sort itself out on its own or to avoid the embarrassment of sharing what is wrong.
As with our personal health, those organisations that choose either option 1 or option 3 can start to feel better for a while, but some can later realise there is an underlying health issue that has not gone away. These organisations then have to explore option 2 and seek some help.
Sometimes people come straight to us for option 2, other times they have got to us after trying option 1 or option 3.
If people have already tried option 1, then sometimes this can involve a bit of unpicking because the wrong medicine has been tried for what is going on, and this can sometimes lead to unintended consequences.
If people have previously tried option 3 then the situation can often be worse than the organisation appreciates, because all the time they thought the problem would go away through a natural process of their organisational ‘antibodies’, the situation has actually been deteriorating.
Whoever you choose as your external practitioner to help you with your property asset strategy, you need a ‘remedy’ that fits with what is going wrong. Please avoid ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions that are not tailored around your needs and challenges.
We all know that you don't take Imodium for a cold. In the same way, the remedy for your property asset strategy needs to fit with your principles and values and gives you the result that you need, that provides you with the solutions that you need. If there was an off the shelf option then you would have found it by now. You are at the point where you need specialist help. So, make sure that you select your specialist very carefully.
I was struck by something that Dr Anthony Fauci said as part of a US Presidential press conference on 16th March. Dr Fauci is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and is a member of the US Coronavirus Task Force. He said:
“When dealing with an emerging infectious disease you are always behind where you think you are, if you think that today reflects where you really are.”
In explaining what he meant by that, he said “It will always seem that the best way to address it [the infectious disease] would be to do something that might look like an overreaction.”
In other words, you think you know where you are but the truth is that in most cases the situation is actually far worse than the data is showing you, because you are constantly working behind the curve with out of date data.
This struck me, as it is something that I have consistently observed myself in supporting local authorities with strategic property asset management support. When organisations seek help it is because they have undertaken some sort of self-diagnosis. But the truth often is that what the organisation has self-diagnosed has actually under estimated the seriousness of the situation.
So again, when you seek external support, make sure you bring someone in that appreciates this time lag and under-estimation of the situation. Or else the solution they come up with for you might be based on what you have diagnosed, rather than what is actually going on. Make sure that your chosen ‘practitioner’ is someone that can identify and diagnose from experience, not just based on what you tell them.