20 Oct 2011
Today’s post is written by Randy Deutsch, a nationally recognized leader in the advancement of BIM and IPD, he speaks & writes on their social implications on the AEC industry. BIM + Integrated Design is one of the the websites that Randy maintains and is a wonderful resource for all things related to Building Information Modeling.
I wanted to write a book—not about technology, or business models, but about architects … and charge $79 for it … in the worst recession architects have ever known.
I wanted to write a book about architects and how they’re adapting in a time of accelerating change in the design and construction industry.
While many were focused on BlogTour 2011 and Japanese erasers, I surreptitiously wanted to write about how architects are adjusting to the constantly evolving technologies and work processes and how they’re impacted by the advent of Building Information Modeling (BIM) into the workplace.
BIM adoption and implementation are no longer the main challenge most firms are grappling with as they were a few years back. Today, it’s money. But it’s also the social implications of the technology and associated work processes on firm culture and workflow brought about by implementing BIM. (And money.)
Of the triumvirate of business, technology, and culture, culture was by far the least studied, analyzed, and frankly, exploited. It was also the least understood. So, using my sepia ink-filled Mont Blanc fountain pen, I set out to rectify this situation.
While many were gushing over lush photos of Giant Leopard Moths, the business and technology cases for BIM were made and largely accepted. It was about time that somebody made the cultural case for BIM. That’s what my book set out to do.
By the “cultural case” I mean human habits, social intelligence, and firm culture — these were taken for granted and were the last frontier for garnering the greatest gains from the technology and work processes. Human factors such as personal initiative, mutual respect, trust, human nature, ownership and authorship, comfort with work processes, workflow, impact of technology on design, work habits, preferences, identity and role, personality, legacy, collaboration and communication—all of these seemingly inconsequential peccadilloes impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your BIM efforts.
Moving ahead, it will be increasingly necessary to align the attitudes, mindsets, and work habits of architects in order to continue – not only survive, but excel in this new environment. Helping architects and their firms thrive in this environment would be the purpose for, and focus of, my book.
So, until BIM use is ubiquitous, until BIM permanently enters the lexicon and architects start thinking in terms of BIM’s impact on all trades, until Bob Borson starts using it—until that day comes … architects with $79 and time on their hands will have this book to guide them.
This book originated with something I overheard. Charles Hardy, deputy director of the General Services Administration (GSA), put it bluntly when he said that “BIM is about ten percent technology and ninety percent sociology.” And yet to date, 90 percent of the focus in training, education, and media, has been on the innovative and admittedly visually appealing technology.
But 90 percent sociology? If that’s the case, why are we spending 90 percent of our time attending webinars, seminars, and conferences on the technology? Why are 90 percent of the websites, user groups, and blogs devoted to the software?
Think about it. If the difference between a successful BIM implementation, and a failed or even potentially catastrophic one, has as much or even more to do with the mindsets and attitudes of those who use it as it does the technologies and work process the technologies enable and require. But how will these necessary practical, attitudinal, and behavioral changes come about?
By threatening to discontinue beer Fridays?
Perhaps we’re asking the right questions but focused on the wrong outcomes? That’s because it’s mastering the process—not the technology—that leads to exceptional results, both aesthetically and financially.
Where were the answers to my questions—ten in all—concerning what it is like to be an architect that works in a BIM environment?
- How is it different from the way we used to practice?
- How is the workflow changed—and what exactly is meant by “workflow”?
- What’s with all those large screens and monitors?
- What exactly is a Big Room or iRoom, and do I need to have one?
- What’s the difference between a BIM manager, an IT manager, and a CAD manager, or a BIM operator and a BIM coordinator?
- Who do I hire, who do I mentor, and exactly whom do I select to work in BIM? Is it necessarily the employee who excelled at CAD, or is CAD expertise a potential impediment?
- When will Bob’s T-Shirts for Architects introduce a “Bn” BIM Ninja t-shirt design?
- Is it true that BIM takes as much social intelligence as technical competence?
- What changes to the workplace should I expect?
- How will we share data among the parties involved?
This is where BIM and Integrated Design can help. By addressing these 9 pertinent (and 1 rather impertinent) questions and putting our acceptance and use of these new technologies back on track by making them manageable, understandable, and approachable in people terms.
Still not sold on BIM? Ask yourself this:
- Are you curious about BIM but would like the facts/know what impacts are involved—the full picture?
- Do you have the software but feel that you are not completely utilizing it—or are utilizing it less satisfactorily than you had hoped?
- Do you find yourself in transition between the old way of doing things and things to come?
- Are you already running with the technology—but have run into roadblocks, unexpected issues that you would like to resolve effectively, once and for all?
- Have you mastered BIM but would like to learn more about how others use this knowledge to leverage integrated design in practice?
- Do you perchance have $79 and some spare time on your hands?
I would like to thank Randy for writing a post for me that brings up some important considerations for any firms currently thinking about BIM and how they have positioned themselves in the future marketplace. I have added an image of Randy’s very well received book just above. Just click on the picture above to be brought to Amazon where you can take a closer look for yourself.