Val Peterson is director of facilities management at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, and a past APPA President. He can be reached at

Out in the community, in both business and government, the folks who make things happen, those who set trends and are not satisfied with maintaining the status quo, are called movers and shakers. I'm not sure where the term originated, but it seems obvious that those who qualify to be called such are people on the "move" who are willing to "shake" things up in order to accomplish needed initiatives or changes. A mover is one that sets something in motion such as a plan, a good idea, a concept, or a project. A shaker is one that incites, promotes, or directs action. Movers and shakers are good in both areas.

The opposite of these movers and shakers might be referred to as "loafers and quakers" (The term "quakers" refers to the tremulous variety, not the religious kind.) This group is made up of individuals that rarely accomplish much of lasting value because they are not willing to lead out for fear of failure, or they are too lazy, or they just don't care. They are merely caretakers of their responsibility.

Robert Byrne has said, "There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on...." Movers and shakers obviously stay more focused. In the workplace, however, there are two types of people:

Which type are you?

There are movers and shakers in the field of facilities management too. You have, no doubt, met some of them. Perhaps you are one. These movers and shakers are the ones who set things in motion and make things happen. They lead out with new and innovative ways of getting the job done. They are not bound by convention and they look for better ways for doing old tasks. They embrace technology and use it extensively within an organization. They move beyond customer service into what has been called customer astonishment.

Facilities management movers and shakers don't just complain about deferred maintenance problems, they find the means to get them funded. They burst the shackles of sluggish institutional bureaucracy, restrictive governing board policies and prohibitive state laws and get them changed. They don't shrug their shoulders and wring their hands over employee salaries that are not competitive, but find creative ways to increase them. They don't make excuses for poor performance and lack of service because of inadequate operating budgets, but rather find ways to get the job done anyway. They don't tell customers "we don't do that," but find the wherewithal to respond to customer needs. Sometimes leaders stage revolutions to get the job done.

Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead once said, "Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." If you and your own facilities management organization want to be known as an organization of movers and shakers, it can happen, but to do so means it has to be us—you and your team. You can't wait for someone else or for some other unit or department to do it—it has to be us. If you want to be known for leading out, for raising the bar, for setting the benchmark, for doing things right, and for doing the right things, then you must be willing to do some moving and some shaking. And there are always plenty of things to work on.

So how about it? Are you willing to be a mover and a shaker?