In my recent piece in DesignIntelligence, BIM Beyond Boundaries, I argue for widening our outlook and reach as we deepen our skills.
No doubt, a somewhat unpopular stance today.
In the article I am not suggesting that designers, architects and managers abandon their expertise:
- Project designers can always deepen their skills.
- Project architects can always improve their technology chops and knowhow.
- Project managers can do the same for their leadership skills.
- And others can improve their specialties.
What I am suggesting is for you to spend the next 90 days branching out.
Looking at new ways to work and practice effectively with your teammates.
So often these thought pieces remain just that – saved in our hard drives or on our nightstands – but seldom put into use.
Here, in this post, I unpack some key points from the article BIM Beyond Boundaries.
And make some suggested next steps that you can take based on the prescriptions made in the article.
Think of it as a way of taking the article to task – by making the content actionable.
Avoiding the typical response to feel good articles by answering the question: What now?
What follows are some suggested resources, activities and links to use as action items as you build your breadth as well as depth.
Skim the bullets below, find one that captures your attention and start expanding:
- Form an informal group. Meet to discuss ways your firm can collaborate and partner
- Bring other professionals into the office for lunch-and-learns – not just sales reps
- Form a mastermind group in your firm and hold each other accountable for change items
“Opting for depth over breadth of expertise is a false choice that will lead individuals, organizations, the profession, and industry in the wrong direction.”
- Apply the concepts from Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, into your workplace
- Assign chapters and meet at lunch to discuss the book
- Start here then apply it to leadership EQ
- Read a book on social intelligence such as Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships or Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success
“Several forces are converging to create an unprecedented and timely opportunity for organizations that have embraced building information modeling (BIM). These forces — including the rise of the expert, the growing complexity and speed of projects, and BIM’s increasing recognition as an enabler, catalyst, and facilitator of team collaboration — also present significant challenges that can be overcome with the right approach and mindset.”
- Expertise today requires change and growth, not retention of facts. Read Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for a thorough understanding of the difference between a fixed and growth mindset
- Identify those within your organization with a fixed mindset and determine their likelihood of working towards one of growth
- Aim to make all of your key personnel those with growth mindsets
- Consider applying ideas from Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement to your organization’s learning initiatives
- Consider joining and participating in discussions on what it means to be an expert, among others, at the KA Connect LinkedIn group.
“At one time, being an expert meant knowing more than one’s competitors in a particular field. Firms that reinforced their expert culture hoarded information, which resulted in silos of expertise. Today, many firms are looking to hire people perceived as building and software technology experts, shortsightedly addressing today’s needs at the expense of tomorrow’s.”
- Not all positions require the applicant to be an expert. See, for example, Why I Will Never, see Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert”
“Due to the speed and complexity of projects, we do not have time to acquire knowledge the old way — slowly, over time, through traditional means.”
- Familiarize yourself with the concept of “wicked problems”
- Familiarize yourself with the concept of ‘design assist’ and other ways to tackle fast, large-scaled and complex projects
- Access answers and best practices through online discussions and social media
“Being an expert is no longer about telling people what you know so much as understanding what questions to ask, who to ask, and applying knowledge flexibly and contextually to the specific situation at hand.
“Expertise has often been associated with teaching and mentoring. Today it’s more concerned with learning than knowing: less to do with continuing education and more with practicing and engaging in continuous education.”
- Read the important new book, A New Culture of Learning. By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it.
- Give copies of the book to key colleagues and meet to discuss concepts and ideas with the intention of applying them to your organization.
“Social media presents the would-be expert with both opportunities and challenges. Working with the understanding that somebody somewhere has already done what you are trying to do, design professionals, like agile technology experts, can find what they’re looking for by tapping into their networks and aggregating the responses. Conversely, due to the rise of social media, virtually all anyone has to do today to be considered a technology expert is to call themselves one. Because social networks allow people to proclaim themselves experts, it can be hard to know who to turn to, resulting in the rise of otherwise unnecessary certifications.”
- Apply what you’ve learned via ideas from the book The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media.
“To grow one’s professional reputation, expertise in BIM counter-intuitively requires unlearning, detachment, collaboration, and developing both deep skills and broad interests.”
“We tend to cooperate conditionally, responding to the behavior of others.”
- If you haven’t done so already, read the blog post ‘Unlearning to Collaborate’
- Take a look at Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello for a better understanding of how we all start out as collaborators and unlearn these behaviors along the way
“As we grow in our careers, we tend to focus more on people issues and less on technology.”
- When you consider your own career, does this sound accurate? What implications might this have in terms of how you focus your attention and time in the future? What can you start doing now to prepare?
“Achieving higher levels of BIM use — including analysis, computation, and fabrication — requires skills and a mindset that allow us to work productively and effectively in a collaborative setting.”
- Many firms that have adopted and implemented BIM software solutions have not used the technology or process to their greatest advantage. To do so not only requires familiarizing yourself with these higher uses – but working more collaboratively with others on the team.
- If you – or your organization – have not already done so, make the commitment to take-on BIM’s higher uses in the next 6-12 months.
- Invite local experts who have used BIM for analysis, for sustainability, for fabrication to come to your office to give a demonstration. Or better yet, request and invite and make a visit to their operations to see how they are utilizing the tools and work processes. A simple visit such as this can spark a future teaming or partnering opportunity.
- Follow-up by discussing how you can go about implementing this higher use of BIM on your next project.
“With BIM, technical expertise should not be considered more important than increasing one’s social intelligence, empathy, or the ability to relate well with others.”
- Re-familiarize yourself with the concept of attaining and developing T-shaped skills.
- Consider placing primarily T-shaped people on your project teams
- Read-up on the subject in ‘T-Shaped BIM’ as well as here.
There is so much more we can all do to become well-rounded professionals.
These suggestions are only a start.
At the risk of overwhelming you, I’ll stop for now with these.
If you know of other sources – or have other suggestions or ideas of your own – please let us know by leaving a comment.