FM's failure management to capture its cherished place in the business support pantheon has been subject of much recent comment. This paper presents an overview of how that contribution might be expressed drawing on research‐based evidence from offices, universities, hospitals and retail facilities. Only in a business that conceives itself as running a facility will FM approach a core competence, that is to carry both strategic and operational risks of failure. Business critical aspects of FM in a given context are those where the operational risk of failure is high yet the service is not a strategic competence of the organisation concerned. Operational risk is conceived along two dimensions: impact on the “customer” and impact on licence to operate: the legal, social and employee respect a business needs. While some correspondence with Nutt's four alternative trails can be seen as applying more strongly in separate fields of the resulting impact matrix there is no conclusive fit. The financial trail is arguably important in any sector but requires providers armed with skills and knowledge relevant to the critical impacts on the sector served and “clients” skilled at managing relationships. Otherwise different alignments are suggested of FM with, respectively, HR/KM, sales and marketing, operations/engineering or strategy in the four quadrants of the model presented. Rather than seeking one coherent future the argument is therefore, offered that business critical FM concerns itself more with different competencies in different sectors.
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