Monthly Archives: April 2013

Learning Governance in Strata

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For strata communities to grow in the likeness of our modern criteria for social responsibility, there is only so much we can expect of our lawmakers. Ultimately, we as a community have made choices about the way we want to live that will see our skylines grow up and our housing become higher in density and we have to make choices about the way we want our strata communities managed.

We have to become better at being understood, becoming responsible, focused and all other things advanced as the secret to living well in strata community. However, to reach nirvana, our strata organisations must become truly self-governed with voluntarily imposed standards and processes that are known and respected by its members, where knowledge about common property is cherished as valuable to a well functioning and harmonious body and where the entity itself becomes self replicating rather than crashing every time a group of volunteers burn out.

Odd Creatures

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Owners corporations / bodies corporate are compulsory not for profit organisations. By definition this is an odd creature. We join most groups out of passion for a cause or a pursuit.

We join this one because we buy an apartment and we have no option about membership. We have to belong and we have to contribute, at least financially, to pay the costs of keeping the common property. The halls, the foyers, the outer skin of the development, the gardens, the pools, the garden, the parking, the leaks, the behaviour of children and the bodily function of dogs are all items of business for this group. Whether we choose to participate actively or passively, we must belong. Our lawmakers have determined this is our responsibility.

Upsized Strata Management

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‘Do you want fries with that?’ This is the most frequently asked question of any fast food aficionado. Why this is asked should be obvious, its sells extra product to existing customers.

The more interesting question is how do you get a bunch of teenage kids to ask this routinely? Parents have failed for generations to get their children to do what they want them to do but hamburger chains seem to be able to do it within the first shift.

The answer is that somebody at the restaurant understands what it means to develop a particular culture within the organization, in this case the culture of ‘up selling’. The restaurateur has a commitment to an idea – sell more products to existing customers. This has been followed by implementation of a system to make it happen – the cash register prompts the kid to ask the question. Someone is monitoring and measuring the results of the program to reward the best and retrain the slackers. And lastly, someone is responsible for driving continual improvement – for example developing a system that provides a different prompt if fries are already part of the order, ‘Would you like to upsize that meal for an extra dollar?’ Everyone on the team knows what to do, they have a system to help them do it and although it’s a bit creepy, they know they are being watched to make sure the job is done and that’s ok because it’s all for the common good.

The responsibility of an owners corporation, we have learnt, is to care for and maintain the common property of the block. The owners must do this within the context of a set of laws about the management of strata property and a broader set of laws and standards imposed by government and society on groups functioning in our world. Adhering to the requirements of law and accepted social and ethical standards about the common property of our apartment building is not nearly as exciting or as profitable as selling more fries and is about as interesting to apartment owners as selling food is to teenagers who would much prefer to be eating it. Understanding then the requirements of an owners corporation, how do we get people to do what’s required? As the restaurateur developed a culture of up selling, so we must create within our strata communities and organisations a culture of compliance.

Developers Saints or Sinners

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For all their sins, developers do a good job using the strata concept to respond to our changing needs as a society.

The strata concept has been used to regenerate forgotten and neglected parts of cities with residential and mixed commercial use property, to build hotels when there was no funding available for this sector, to provide gated communities for the security conscious and to provide retirement homes and apartments for the aged. The concept has even been used for the less obvious: strata titled self-storage sheds, car parks, marinas, wineries and forests!

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