Here’s the transcript of the talk I’ll be giving in San Francisco next week at KA Connect 2011,
a Pecha Kucha talk entitled
“I’ll Collaborate as Long as I Can Work Alone,”
20 seconds each.
Let me know what you think.
There’s a crisis in the profession
At 2 industry events just like this
I watched as an architect threw a chair at an invisible enemy
In both cases the speaker used the more generic “Designer” in lieu of the title “Architect”
Where’s the architect? Where’s all of my education and knowledge? Where am I? What became of me?
To quickly and effectively confront this situation head-on
I wrote a 300 page book
And published it with a traditional publisher
In just over 2 ½ years
Thoughtfully, the economy stalled my target audience’s crisis long enough for me to catch up
I started by building an online platform
An acquisitions editor on LinkedIn asks – anyone out there with a book idea?
I had one – the publisher turns it down but says those-four-magic-words:
What else you got?
Most writers have a book but no publisher
I had the enviable position of having a publisher but no book
They say the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas, right?
So I send them 17 ideas for books that will stop architects from throwing chairs
The publisher selects 3
Three that they feel would make a compelling book
The publisher says: “Combine these into a book you’ve got a deal.”
There was a sense of urgency – time was running out
The architecture profession is experiencing an identity crisis
The way we communicate knowledge to one another is changing
Publishing itself is going the way of the dinosaur – books may not exist when my book comes out
Nor, for that matter, bookstores.
At the same time the publishing and construction worlds are going through enormous changes
So is our environment
The world has a problem – it is heating up
And it takes collaboration – many minds – to solve complex problems
I saw my book as a way to collect and diffuse knowledge on this subject in this time of transition
And to teach design professionals the importance of working together collaboratively.
At the same time, buildings are becoming more and more complex.
We’ll only be able to tackle today’s complex problems through collaboration
Collaboration takes work and a prepared mindset
You have to be disciplined, can’t just show up and wing it
There was a gap in learning along these lines in the profession
My book sought to fill this gap.
I may not have originally set out to write a book on BIM and Integrated Design
But together they addressed the three topics my publisher selected from those I proposed
And BIM and Integrated Design go together like peanut butter and chocolate
Like Two great tastes that taste great together.
BIM and Integrated Design are two great technologies and processes that work well together.
It is often repeated that BIM is 10% technology 90% sociology
If that’s the case, why is 90% of the energy and resources focused on the technology?
My book comes at a time when few are focusing on the people side of the change equation.
Written from a firm culture standpoint, it addresses BIM as a cultural process.
So why a book?
A book allows you to collect knowledge in one place
Tell a coherent, compelling story
Books provide immersive experiences and expose us to learning that can transform our lives
But at the same time, what we consider a book is changing.
Our communications today are ephemeral
Like writing on a mental chalk board that gets wiped clean each night
And while the internet never forgets, so much of what we write and learn – including tweets and blogs – we forget
I set out to write a book whose message will last – and stick around.
For its content to lead to critical, necessary changes in the profession and industry
I made the book essentially a collection of stories
To do so I had to write the book less like a mental black board and more like a mental bulletin board, with knowledge accumulated over time
Where the latest information in the book builds on what came before.
Technology books are notorious for becoming dated or obsolete
To ensure that the book would remain relevant
Its focus is on people, relationships, and workflow.
These subjects are not as fickle as software and computers.
Technology may come and go.
The way people behave in response to new technology, however, does not change.
I grew up with Prairie Avenue Bookshop in Chicago
With the dream that I would one day write a book and give a signing there
After 48 years in business,
Prairie Avenue Bookshop closed while I was writing the book.
Will the chance to control their chair throwing tendencies compel architects to spend $75 on my book in the midst of an economic downturn?
My network had a lot of people who have worked with the technology and work processes
and have started to formulate their own insights
So I tapped into my network and set out to interview experts
People who were working in it,
leading it, had invented it, hire and retain those who use it
And people who were teaching it.
The book addresses the number one problem of BIM : not technology, but personality
BIM and Integrated Design require a much different mindset, and this mindset requires collaboration, coordination, team work, and knowledge sharing in order to succeed.
Overcoming the real barrier, which are the people who say they want to change but in the end have a hard time doing so.
Writing this book changed my perspective on everything.
Everyone I spoke with was completely open about sharing their experiences concerning the changes they were seeing in their teams, firms and industry
It’s like the observer effect
People spoke to me openly about the subject because there is a book
And there is a book because they spoke openly with me.
We so often think of collaborating with others outside our organization
When the most effective collaboration occurs every day, internally
Mentoring up and down
But first, this must take place inside ourselves – our seasoned selves mentoring our emerging selves, and vice versa.
Collaboration is an inside game – and my book sought to illustrate this.
My book will provide much needed background into a topic that many architectural firms do not yet fully understand
How can BIM advance the profession of architecture?
How can collaboration assure the survival of the architect?
This is not a technology book or a process book
This is a knowledge book
A book assuring that this knowledge is not lost.
Over 100,000 books are published in the US annually
So why bring another book into this world?
To shed some light
Into the lives of those who might otherwise feel like throwing a chair
In writing the book I was reminded that ours is a universe filled with enlightened minds
It’s just that the individual voices needed to be connected
And what better place to do that than in a book?
What do you think? Are books still the best place to capture and share information and knowledge?
2 responses to “Why Bring Another Book into this World?”
Randy, Can I show this presentation to the Architecture Dept at the School of the Art Institute? It is a perfect introduction to the topic whether or not anyone reads books anymore.
Of course books are a perfect place to start discussing BIM and Integrated Project Delivery, it is just that the definition of “book” is expanding. It seems like you have that expansion in mind and will be ready for the rocket ship ride to dramatic tool set changeover that your book portends. Mike Bordenaro
Thanks Mike. Let me noodle your request and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Thanks in good part to your efforts in education and communications we’ll all be well-prepared for what’s to come. Randy