FM Frequency: The Games Of The Facility Management Olympiad

By Jeff Crane, P.E., LEED® AP
Published in the October 2004 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

You are cordially invited to participate in the 2005 Facility Management (FM) Olympiad to be held in Athens next summer. Surprised? Did you really think the Greeks’ just-in-time, $50 trillion construction project was ONLY for the 2004 Summer Games? Reuse of facilities is not exclusively an American concept. Let’s review some of the internationally sanctioned competitions.

200 Meter Cube Hurdle. This event showcases the participants’ ability to hurdle down a 200 meter long, 6′ x 8′ standard cube farm (complete with 54″ high walls). Like conventional hurdles, three steps are required between each cube wall. However, the lead foot must be planted firmly on the floor, the second step on the chair, and the third step over the sturdy work surface. The runner gracefully sails over each wall (and cube occupant’s head). Performance boosting chairs with non-standard spring coefficients will be disqualified.

Early favorite. The Americans are the natural favorite for this event, since productivity and efficiency gains during the recent economic slowdown helped them work faster and get to a fresh coffee pot first. The American caffeine addiction is not a particularly well kept secret, since gourmet coffee shops populate every corner and U.S. soft drink sizes have slowly evolved from 12 ounce cans to 20 ounce bottles to three gallon mini-kegs. To avoid disqualification, this team must be aware of the legal limits on caffeine consumption set by the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic Committee.

Vending Machine Ransack. In this event, competitors have four minutes to attempt to remove as many snacks from a standard vending machine as possible. The only rule is that snacks must be edible at the end of the extraction, making gasoline an impractical accessory. Crowbars, chains, Kevlar gloves, bricks, and rocket propelled grenades are crowd pleasing tools for this event. Eye protection is required for participants, spectators, and judges.

Early favorite. The European Union is expected to field a strong coalition team of hooligans (also known as soccer fans) and have a documented history of sports induced violence.

Telephone Hammer Throw. This event includes a standard office phone with an 8′ long phone cord. Competitors are encouraged to spin the phone as many times as they wish or sling it overhead like a lasso, releasing the phone for the longest distance. Broken cords and/or colorful profanity during the spin result in automatic disqualification. Extra large switchboard phones and aerodynamically enhanced equipment are not permitted. Bonus points are awarded to anyone who hits the office’s chronically cold complainer.

Early favorite. India is expected to field a competitive team of experienced customer service operators. The team boasts a ‘perfect storm’ advantage, combining sitting still several hours per day, calming frustrated international clients with language barriers, and doing anything feasible to stay awake all night in order to coincide with American business hours.

100 Meter Copy Machine Drop. This event includes identification of the worst copy machine in an office followed by a drop from a 100 meter tower. The team with the copy machine showing the most improvement in copies per minute and finisher performance (following the drop) are awarded medals. Bonus points are given for superior stapling precision after the fall.

Early favorite. Japan holds a distinct advantage in this kind of technology improvement challenge.

D-COR Challenge. The Data Center/Operating Room Challenge is sure to be a crowd pleaser. In the spirit of ‘Monster Garage’ and other annoying reality/makeover programs, each team will be granted 10 hours to convert a fully functional data center to a fully functional operating room. Only portable hand tools can be brought in from outside, while existing phone and computer equipment must be converted to EKG and life support systems. Finalists will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals by volunteering one member of their team to undergo elective plastic surgery (conducted by real doctors, not FMs) in the post-makeover room. Medals will be awarded in order of the most hideous and bizarre results.

Early favorite. Germany is expected to field a team of top notch automotive engineers, which will make them the early favorite. The team captain has expressed interest in volunteering for the elective plastic surgery portion of the competition.

Chain Smoke Sprint. This challenge includes identifying employees known to take the most smoke breaks during the work day. In 15 minutes, competitors have been known to inhale as many as seven packs of cigarettes. There is no limit to the number of units that can be puffed at one time, but a green complexion at any time during the competition results in an automatic disqualification.

Early favorite. France has to be the expected leader in this event. With a four hour work day and government mandated 32 weeks of vacation per year, the French have had the time to develop smoking as their next true art form (behind wine making and gourmet cooking).

Kayak/White Water Dash. This event will combine survival skills, physical endurance, and thievery. Competitors will wear full wet suits and carry a one-man kayak from the parking lot, across a slippery office lobby, up and down a series of (non-freight) elevators and stairwells, navigate a lengthy cubicle maze, and finally, paddle their kayaks against the current of a decorative lobby fountain. Contestants will be required to roll their kayaks twice while collecting spare change from the bottom of the fountain. Scoring will include a combination of the fastest time and the most money gathered’first from coworkers in the cubicle maze and then from the bottom of the lobby fountain.

Early favorite. With their Viking heritage, any one of the Scandinavian nations are could take this event.

Sources tell me that the 2005 FM events will be followed by a much anticipated 2006 CEO Moronathon, where ethically challenged corporate executives will have an opportunity to compete for gold, silver, and bronze house-arrest ankle bracelets! Events will include an ‘Investor Magic Numbers’ competition and a ‘Pension Pickpocket’ relay race.

Vertically striped uniforms are reportedly being designed by Martha Stewart, who has incorporated the five ring logo. This symbol salutes the top five ‘white collar prisons’ in the Federal Correction Institute system.

Make plans now to compete in the 2005 Games of the FM Olympiad, and pray that your company is not invited to the 2006 CEO Moronathon!

Crane is a mechanical engineer and regional property manager with Childress Klein Properties, a leading real estate developer and property management services provider in the Southeast.