A ‘New’ Normal

01/07/2002 |

Although members of the editorial staff at Buildings magazine spend much of their workday talking with industry players – readers, suppliers, association executives, and consultants – the most gratifying times in the exchange of information are always face-to-face. Therefore, I was especially pleased to be part of an Advisory Council Summit sponsored by Kennesaw, GA-based DuPont Flooring Systems, in which a group of 20 facilities decision-makers and interior designers figuratively rolled up their sleeves but literally offered their host and each other insight into their professional challenges and opportunities.

Two things about this summit were particularly interesting. First, it followed the events of September 11 by a just a few, short weeks. Throughout the final planning stages, the folks at DuPont were very open to their council members’ concerns about travel, but the group, almost unanimously, forged ahead with a need-to-have determination.

Secondly, through last-minute circumstances, the two professions – end-users and designers – convened together, rather than separately as they had in the past. The result – as is often the case when fate steps in – turned out to be an open dialogue about the rewards and frustrations of their respective roles in the design, development, and management of facilities and ways to improve their interaction with suppliers, the project team, code officials, and each other. Between the two professions, the similarities – in terms of vision, direction, and budget demands – were surprising. Clearly evident was a single-minded eagerness to communicate ways to move an industry and a nation forward during troubling circumstances. What also impressed me was DuPont’s willingness to empower participants to take these discussions in directions that were relevant to the industry – not product specific to carpet or flooring, as most hosts might have dictated.

As a result, the conversations addressed safety and security concerns; the downsizing/dot.com fall-out and associated space challenges; doing more, with better results, with less (money and personnel); travel challenges and the need for easier, but adept conferencing technology; indoor air quality; professional development; and so on. One council member coined an interesting phrase: “We have to find a ‘new’ normal,” he said.

“A ‘new’ normal?” Defining that will be our industry’s next challenge. How well we implement it will secure our future. Won’t you share your thoughts on that with me? I will gladly pass them on to Buildings’ readers. E-mail me at (linda.monroe@buildings.com).

Step up to the plate. It’s time to go way beyond our expectations.

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